Eco-friendly methods lead to 15pc better yield
Author / Source : Faisal Rahman
Dhaka, Nov 3: Eco-friendly methods of cultivation including perching are gaining popularity with the farming community, as they ensure a 15 per cent better yield and cost reduction. Part of what experts call integrated pest control, perching has actually reduced the dependence and spending of a lot of farmers, especially those in the northern districts, on chemical pesticides, officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) say.
Launched about two years ago, the success of perching in controlling pests has far exceeded the expectations of DAE officials, says Dr. Kalidas Debnath, additional director of Ranpgur DAE office. “We estimate that about 90 per cent of rice fields in Rangpur division has been covered by perching this Aman season, he adds.
Abdul Khaleq, a farmer of Uttarchak village in Pabna, says farmers in his locality had put tree branches as perches in their cropped fields to invite birds to feed on pests. Birds that came to roost on the perches started feeding on the insects thus reducing pest attacks, he adds.
Syed Rezaur Rahman, an elderly farmer of Majidpur village at Pabna Sadar, says the method was quite popular in his early years, but gradually it faded out of practice as later generations of famers started using pesticides. Seventy-year-old Rahman says pesticides were not at all used even 30 years ago.
“The use of chemical pesticides began with the introduction of high-yield rice varieties (HYV). But as years went on, the insects also grew immune to the chemicals and farmers had to gradually increase the doses to protect their crops,” he further says.
“In the past, the agro officials used to advise us to use this or that brands, but none could be used with much effect for more than two or three years in a row.”
“So the farmers started using as much pesticides as they could to fend off pests. But it only strengthened the immunity of the insects. Now that most of the pesticides prove ineffective in controlling pests, agro officials are coming up with alternative methods that are similar to the techniques we used to in the past,” he adds.
Dr Latiful Haider, senior IPM specialist of DAE, says that following the success of perching last year, farmers are using perching in about 13 thousand acres of fields, in half of the upazilas of the country this Aman season, under two pest management projects of DAE.
“The farmers are being directly trained by DAE under the projects that aim to replace chemical fertilizers with methods that include reintroducing some indigenous ways of pest control such as perching,” Dr Haider adds.
Besides the factor that DAE has already mainstreamed the method in all of its programmes and projects, the farmers under the projects also spread the knowledge among neighbouring farmers and this has only increased the popularity of perching, he further says.
Integrated pest management is a combination of different eco-friendly methods used at different stages of cultivation, which includes using light traps, treating seeds with juices of neem or tobacco, using balanced fertilizers and going for mechanical instead of chemical control of pests, Dr Haider explains.