Local farmers in Medak, part of Telangana, call them Satyam pantalu- the crops of truth ...



We will not close down our balwadis ...



Non-pesticidal Management of Gram pod borer in pigeon pea and chick pea by farmers of the Zaheerabad region in Deccan plateau
B.SURESH REDDY, Scientist (Agricultural extension)
Deccan Development Society, Pastapur.

Field Visit to NPM Farm

India has been largely an agrarian society. Traditional Indian Agricultural practices were in perfect harmony with nature. Eminent British Agricultural scientist Albert Howard wrote that Indian farmers used organic manures which ensured that they could continue farming on the same land for more than 2000 years without any loss of yeild. He also added that the crops were remarkably free from pests and diseases.

Agriculture and environment are closely interlinked. Direct pollution due to agricultural activities is mainly related to increase use of chemical inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides.

The total cropped area in India is about 143 million hactares and out of which rainfed agriculture accounts for 70%. Small and marginal farmers constitute 60-65 %of the total farming population in India. Majority of them live in drylands. Pigeon pea and Chick pea are the two major pulse crops grown in the dryland areas of the country. In Andhra Pradesh more than 78% of the area is still rainfed and the productivity is very low. It is estimated that the country would need a minimum of 30.3 million tonnes of pulses by 2020 A.D. The percapita availability of pulses has declined from 64g/capital/day(1955 to 1956) to less than 40g/capita/day as against WHO recommendation of 80 gm/capita/day. In A.P. pigeon pea is cultivated in an area of 3.94 lakh ha with a production of 1.70 lakh tonnes.

Like else where, even in Zaheerabad region of Deccan Plateau Pigeon pea and Chick pea are the two major pulse crops grown to an extent of 50,000 ha and 15,000 ha respectively. The extent of crop loss due to this pest ranges from 20-80%. Some times in serious cases it may be complete crop failure. To combat the pest farmers are being encouraged to use pesticides. The pesticide consumption in India has increased from 434 metric tones in 1954 to above 80,000 mt in 1997-98. The total demand for pesticide in India may rise to 1 lakh metric tones. The indiscriminate use of pesticide has created lot of environmental problems. It is alarming to note that about 36.30%( Singh S.P.2000) of the total consumption of pesticides is concentrated only in Andhra Pradesh. The out break of Helicoverpa armigera in 1997 has lead to suicides of more than 250 farmers which is due to the huge amounts of money spent on Pesticides and still were unable to control pest. The farmers entered into debt trap and found no way of coming out of it and hence committed suicide. The use of pesticides has lead to

  • Development of pesticide resistant strains in insects.
  • Resurgence of pest species
  • Direct toxicity to the applicator.
  • Destruction of parasites, predators and other beneficial organisms
  • Accumulation of pesticide residues in the agricultural commodities.
  • Poisoned food, water, air and soil.

Pesticides issue is nolonger just a subject to be studied. The problem is starting at us with the glass of water we drink or the food we eat. Toxic poisons are inextricable part of our lives today. We live in an age when the advocates of modernization and progress are blind to our most important sources of existence and a crucial link to all life on this planet.

Pesticides do not decipher caste, gender or nationality. They will kill anybody irrespective of his or her origins.

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The problem of pest in agriculture is intrinsically connected to the type of agriculture practiced, the type of seeds used and the manner in crops are cultivated. Sustainable agriculture is a part of sustainable eco-system and in such a system even a pest has a place. Traditionally, our farmers used to care for the ecological balance between pests and predators. The invasion of modern agricultural system upset this balance totally. Today, instead of blaming the technological outlook of agriculture, pests are being blamed. First a problem is created and then an even bigger hazaed is introduced to confront the problem. This has become a pattern of technological development.

The use of pesticide was a part of an entire package of green revolution involving chemical fertilisers, HYV seeds, irrigation and so on. Plants growing in natural conditions have always had better resistance capacities for pests.

There are many alternatives if only we care to look. Most importantly, alternatives imply a change of life style, a total transition in outlook. Are we. As a society, ready to make these vital changes for ourselves, for the earth, for our children and for the future of all mankind? Even if a pest becomes hazard there are far safer alternatives than spreading poison. Traditionally, farmers have been using several practices to prevent the hazards of pests. Framers of Zaheerabad region are in the forefront of following such ecofriendly practices without foregoing there good yields.Keeping this in view, the Deccan Development Society(DDS) in colloboration with Centre for World solidarity(CWS) has conducted a massive compaign on this pest management throughout Zaheerabad region from 1996 onwards through various means with a thrust on farmer's traditional knowledge systems.

Deccan Development Society has been working in 75 villages in Zaheerabad region on sustainable Sustainable agriculture and food security issues with marginal farmers from dalit groups for the last 15 years.

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Our traditional farmers have time-tested knowledge in dealing with pests- a wisdom that is passed from generation to generation. A wealth of wisdom is facing extinction with the invasions of modernization. The farmers have traditionally promoted predators like ducks and frogs to reduce pest attack. Unfortunately, many of the natural alternatives are getting wiped out with increasing modernization.There is an urgent need to strengthen all such wisdom.


DDS has been constantly discussing with the women farmers it works regarding the farmer's practices of pest control specially for the Helicoverpa armigera in the Pigeon pea and Chick pea crops. Sangham meetings and fortnightly meetings of women karyakartha's came out with the methods for controlling Helicoverpa, which was based on their experience of pest management. Focussed group discussions and PRAs were conducted to understand the these farmers practices and their advantages. DDS is trying to put back the same knowledge of farmers regarding pest control in an organized and systematic way and is taking back once again to the farming community through its Non-Pesticidal management programme in pigeon pea supported by Centre for World Solidarity(CWS)

Colloboration with CWS

Working with CWS has added a new technological dimension and helped our understanding on the following elements:

  • Identifying beneficial and non beneficial insects.
  • The stages of occurrence and growth of insects.
  • The points of time in which they need to be controlled and some methods of control.
  • It has brought some new knowledge to control mechanisms through the use of pheromone traps and such other novel methods and a right understanding of the stages and the manner in which botanical pesticides to be used.


The farmers of the region lay emphasis on two fundamental aspects which are very critical in the pest management.

  1. Enhancing soil fertility for building stonger and richer soil which can be the first antidote to the pest attack.
  2. Enhancing the biodiversity in the farms as the first defence against insect pests

In addition to these key principles in pest management the farmers are following Non-pesticidal management options(NPM), most of which are based on farmer's traditional knowledge systems. The NPM options adopted by the farmers are as follows.

  • Deep summer ploughing
  • Use of pest tolerant variety
  • Crop rotation
  • Trap cropping with Marigold, Castor and Sunflower
  • Bird perching
  • Light traps
  • Spraying of jaggery solution
  • Broad casting of corned puffs and yellow rice.
  • Pheromone traps for monitoring the pest
  • Neem seed kernel extract
  • Chilli + Garlic extract
  • Cow dung + Urine extract
  • Use of NPV virus
  • Manual collection and destruction of larvae
  • Shaking of plants in severe cases of pest infestation.

The results of the farmers who have adopted these series of ecological options was highly encouraging. Initially the programme started with 10 farmers and upto now in 5 years more than 1000 farmers have been covered under this programme. Several workshops covering aspects like Quality neem seed collection, role of biodiversity in pest management, prepartion of botanical pesticides, life cycle of pests, stages of occurrence and growth of insects and role of natural enemies and their identification etc were organized every year before the pest attack. Extension activities like field days, exposure visits, field visits, wall paintings, cultural shows using local folk media and exchange of experience between farmers. All these activities also simultaneously give us a chance to learn from farmers about their experiences of pest management through Non-pesticidal approach.

Results of the programme

Pesticides issue is nolonger just a subject to be studied. The problem is starting at us with the glass of water we drink or the food we eat. Toxic poisons are inextricable part of our lives today. We live in an age when the advocates of modernization and progress are blind to our most important sources of existence and a crucial link to all life on this planet.

Pesticides do not decipher caste, gender or nationality. They will kill anybody irrespective of his or her origins.

NPM - Mandala


As mentioned earlier more than thousand farmers of the region are directly involved in this movement covering an area of around 600 hactares. The consolidation of the results upto the year 2000 reveals that the average production of NPM farmers in pigeon pea crop was 283kg/ha where as Non-NPM(Chemical farmer) farmers was 208 Kg/ha. The average plant protection cost for NPM farmers was Rs150/ha and for chemical farmers it was Rs 980/ha. The average net income of the NPM farmer was 1623/ha and for Chemical farmer Rs 900/ha. In the years of severe pest outbreak, NPM farmers harvested 125-200Kg/ha of yield.

The following example of last year gives us an idea about the results of the programme in the region. The following table indicates the results of NPM methods in Kalbemal village of Nyalkal mandal of Medak district in Andhra Pradesh.

Economics of NPM - Pigeonpea with Intercrop 2000-2001 (Black soil)
Village : Kalbemal

Name of the farmer
Area in ha
Yield inQ/ha
Cost of Plant Protection Pigeon Pea Rs./Ha
Total Cost of Cultivation Rs./Ha
Gross Income Rs./Ha
Net Income Rs./Ha
Pigeon Pea
Inter Crop
Jagannath Reddy
Mahamood Miya
Maruthi Patel
Mustari Saranappa
Manik Rao
B. Tukaram

• Jowar   ° Green Gram   § Black Gram   + Field Bean   * Niger

Economics of NPM - Pigeonpea with Intercrop 2000-2001 (Red soil)


In Kalbemal village the programme was implemented in both Red soil and Black soil
conditions. The yield of pigeonpea was much better in black soil as compared to red soil due to good soil fertility, depth and more moisture availability. The overall net income was also higher where crop is taken in black soil. The intercropping and mixed farming not only played an important role in increasing the net returns both at black and red soils but also controlling the pest.

Over all achievement of the programme

  • NPM is slowly becoming a matter of faith with the communities with whom DDS work instead of just another programme.
  • Improved the knowledge of farmers regarding pests and natural enemies
  • Expertise regarding botonical pesticides preparations increased in the farming community.
  • Women, specially dalits became the leaders in the NPM of pests whom other village community is approaching for KNOW HOW.
  • Created a large group of master trainers both in the organisation and also in the farming community who can play vital role in horizontal spread of the NPM concept.
  • Reduced the dependency of the farmers on the external inputs.
  • Helped in systematizing non-chemical management of pests which the resource poor farmers of Zaheerabad traditionalll followed.


Crop protection is a complex process which requires an understanding of the interactions between the environment, methods of farming and the predominant system of cultivation. Hence, crop protection cannot consist in only one specific measure, but requires a suitable combination of methods depending on crop, climate and region. Farmers have been following these series of ecological options which was based on their own knowledge systems and put back to them in more organized way. As a result farmers are reaping good harvests. The spread of NPM concept has been both vertical and horizontal and transformed into movement in all the DDS operational villages. Using locally available, low cost inputs and traditional knowledge, farmers are successfully managing this devastating pest Helicoverpa with good yields and simultaneously adding to the overall improvement of the environment.


Sasi K.P, When the birds stop singing, a study on the impact of pesticides, published by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, July 2000.

Status report of Non pesticidal mangement of cotton,pigeon pea and Ground nut pests, Centre for World Solidarity, 1996-2001.

Progress report on Non pesticidal management of cotton, pigeon pea and Groun nut pests, Centre for World Solidarity, 1999-2000.

Gaby Stoll, Natural crop protection in the tropics, Margraf publishers, 1986, Germany.