Bio-pesticides not yet cost effective for farmers

Agriculture Development National

The cost of labor required for using bio pesticides is more due to multiple dosage, say farmers.

The use of bio-pesticides by farmers remained low in India initiatives by the government to provide them at subsidized rate. This is due to low shelf life and less effectiveness. Farmers say that they prefer chemical fertilizers as it is easy to use and provides quick remedy.

A study states the consumption of bio pesticides in India accounts for only eight percent.

Harsha Gowda, a farmer from Channapatna said that he prefers to use chemical pesticides over bio pesticides even though he can buy the bio pesticides at same rate.  He added that he has to use it more times than synthetic fertilizers. The labor cost for using  organic fertilizer is more. “The cost of labor for one  spray is Rs. 500 and if I use the bio pesticide I have to pay more than twice,” he added.

He also said that he prefers to buy chemicals and fertilizers from private companies and not government as the products  given are of low quality. Many farmers do not get the subsidy as the process is complicated like Aadhaar number enrollment,  which most farmers are not aware of.

Devu Raj, a Crop Care Manager at an Agro Chemical company said that the price difference for the chemical fertilizer and bio pesticides is not much. He added that  the dosage and quantity required for the bio pesticides to show effective results is  higher than what is required when using chemical fertilizers.

She said that there are various kinds of bio pesticides, some are plant based and some are produced using micro-organisms. “If a product is made using fungus the shelf life of the pesticide will not be more than three to four months. The frequency of supply is also more, in case of the bio pesticide they have to use at-least two to three times to show results,“she added.

“Farmers do not use these pesticides as they have to buy the pesticides  in large quantities due to requirement of high dosage which is not cost effective for them. The result is slow and they have to earn a living,” she added.

The Assistant Director of Agriculture Department  said that there are farmers that are using bio pesticides instead of chemical pesticides, but comparatively less. He said that some of the commonly used bio pesticides among farmers are Tricoderma, Pseudomonas, and Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus (NPV).

He added that the government has introduced two schemes;  Grama One and Plant Protection scheme. The Grama One is a  central scheme under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) where the farmers are provided bio pesticides at 50 percent subsidy and the state government introduced the Plant protection scheme which also offers bio pesticides to farmers at 50 percent subsidy.

“We have also introduced various awareness programs in 23 districts across Karnataka that promote the use of bio pesticides among farmers,” he said.

The Assistant Director  also said that  farmers are not willing to use it despite the programs as it takes a little more time than regular synthetic products. “ It is naturally extracted and the process of production and extraction of these pesticides requires a lot of capital so the price could be a bit more than chemical pesticides.”

Devu Raj also said that at the moment the organic or bio pesticides are mainly used by Polyhouse or green house farmers rather than food crop growers as they do not require much fertilizers or pesticides. This kind of farming is done in a controlled setup and is attacked by the insects rarely.