Sangeetha Unnithan

Panchayat facility to supply fertilizers and natural agents

Initial investment

is Rs.20 lakh

Farmers to get subsidised products

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Continuing its efforts to promote organic farming, the district panchayat has set up a bio-control lab in Nedumangad block for large-scale production of organic fertilizers and bio-control agents against a range of crop diseases.

The Prakriti Biotech Bio-control Lab, which will be inaugurated on Friday, has been set up as a joint initiative of the district panchayat, the Nedumangad block panchayat, the Kudumbasree Mission and Kerala Agricultural University, which provides technical support. The initial investment is Rs.20 lakh.

“This is a non-profit venture and the products from the lab will be sold to farmers at subsidised rates. The aim of this project is to popularise organic farming and attain self-sufficiency in agriculture,” said district panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan.

The lab aims at an output of 10 tonnes a month initially and has been equipped with systems such as laminar air flow, a bio-fermenter, a pulveriser and an autoclave machine. It will produce bio-control agents such as trichoderma and pseudomonas, which are effective against fungal diseases such as downy mildew, powdery mildew, root rot, rhizome rot, blisters blight, wilt, stem bleeding, banana nematode, leaf spot and reniform nematode.

“Bio-control agents are organisms such as fungi and bacteria that increase the immunity of crops against pest attacks by forming a protective layer on the crop through biochemical production. Instead of destroying pests, it prevents plant disease,” said lab production manager R.N. Praveen.

These agents are applicable to almost all crops, such as paddy, banana, pepper, cardamom, betel vine, ginger, tea, rubber, coffee and ornamental crops. The lab has procured the culture of the two agents developed by P. Siva Prasad of Kerala Agricultre University. Each will be available in 1-kg packets priced at Rs.80.

“We have formed an activity group comprising four biotechnology professionals. The income generated from the sale of the products will be used for the maintenance of the lab and payment of salaries,” said district panchayat secretary V.S. Santhosh Kumar. He said that initially, the products would not be marketed on a large scale and would be provided only to the beneficiaries of the district panchayat’s agriculture schemes such as Samagra and Harithamithram. The products will be made available at the Krishi Bhavans.

Mr. Praveen said the lab would increase its monthly output to 20 tonnes over the next six months by taking up production of bio-pesticides and organic fertilizers also.