Offers organic substitutes to chemicals

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra-Kannur (KVK) of the Kerala Agricultural University at Panniyur here has set up an Agro-biopharmacy to promote organics in agriculture.

KVK officials here said that the major problem faced while adopting organic farming being the non-availability of trustworthy organic products and the cumbersome preparation of organic products, the Agro-biopharmacy enables farmers to reduce harmful agro-chemical load in the environment while providing good quality organic inputs. An array of products ranging from tobacco decoction to pheromone traps are produced and sold at the biopharmacy, they said adding that the labour for the production of these items is provided by a self-help group of KVK trainees.

Organic manures like vermi-compost and coir pith compost, bio-control agents such as beneficial bacteria are produced and sold here. These are being used extensively by the farmers against plant diseases. Kits of common botanical pesticide formulations such as tobacco decoction and neem oil garlic emulsion are also sold at the biopharmacy.

“The Agro-biopharmacy is a concept conceived by the KVK and it is aimed at providing inputs required for organic agriculture,” said KVK head K. Abdul Kareem. The concept assumes significance in the context of the endosulfan issue and the declaration of the areas in Kasaragod as organic, he said.

Dr. Kareem said safe use of insecticides is just one of the numerous tools of the Integrated Pest Management recommended by agricultural scientists to safeguard soil and human health. Farmers, however, usually depend solely on chemical insecticides as they think that this is the only practical control measure to obtain quick results. The biopharmacy offers organic substitutes to chemicals.

Encouraging feedback

Dr. Kareem said the feedback from the farmers is encouraging. Two types of pheromone traps against fruit flies are very popular now. Farmers recorded 120 flies per trap in a week's time. Good control can be made through the use of these traps in vegetables and mangoes, he said adding that the KVK is planning two frontline demonstrations to popularise the technology this year.

Among other items produced and sold at the biopharmacy are organic growth promoters like ‘panchagavya,` ‘egg amino acid,' and ‘fish amino acid.' Earthworms for vermi-composting and azolla are also available here. Along with these products, farm advisory service and training in biopharmacy are also given to farmers.

The KVK officials said that the biopharmacy concept can be promoted throughout the State as the organic farming policy of the government envisages the phasing out of chemical pesticides and fertilizers from the farming sector to convert Kerala into an entirely organic State in five or 10 years.