Kerala

Pheromone traps for pest control

A vial with synthetic pheromones hangs over a pheromone trap for catching pests, developed by the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad. Photo: P.V Sivakumar

A vial with synthetic pheromones hangs over a pheromone trap for catching pests, developed by the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad. Photo: P.V Sivakumar  

Farmers in Kerala can look forward to reducing their dependence on toxic chemicals for pest control. The Department of Agriculture has tied up with the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, to introduce pheromone traps in the State.

The technology uses the sex pheromones of a particular pest against itself. Pheromones are hormones released by insects and pests to attract the opposite sex for mating.

The IICT has developed synthetic pheromones designed to attract pests that attack various crops. Once all the members of a particular sex of a pest are mass trapped by the false pheromone, they are killed and mating is stopped, resulting in pest population control.

Director of Agriculture R. Ajithkumar said a memorandum of understanding had been signed with the IICT to use pheromone traps for pests affecting coconut, paddy, banana, pepper, and vegetable crops.

An amount of Rs.25 lakh has been earmarked in the annual Plan for the pilot project to be executed this year through Krishi Vigyan Kendras.

The IICT will provide training for officers and entrepreneurs under the scheme.

Dr. Ajithkumar said pheromone traps had proved to be an environment-friendly alternative to chemical pesticides and Bt technology. While pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables is a major human health hazard, the impact of Bt crops on humans, other organisms, and soil ecosystems is a contentious issue.

Scientists aver that there is little chance of pests developing resistance to pheromones in the long term, as in the case of Bt cotton.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department has earmarked Rs.60 lakh in the annual Plan for 2014-15 to support Krishi Vigyan Kendras in pest and disease surveillance and help them establish plant health clinics. An additional Rs.25 lakh has been set apart to develop pest and disease diagnostic materials to support the clinics and the surveillance teams.

The scheme also includes a proposal to launch mobile clinics to support plant health care. Apart from pest and disease monitoring, the clinics will also help to diagnose nutrient deficiencies and suggest remedies.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2020 6:38:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/pheromone-traps-for-pest-control/article6395350.ece

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