Saturday, July 12, 2008

Signposts of a New Era in Pesticide Safety

It is said that people tend towards falsehoods because the truth is denied to them. Showing people the correct path is often most efficacious for amelioration. Consider the following ten steps. They can collectively meet the concerns of all shareholders.

1. Planning and budgeting at the village and individual farm levels. This is to prevent field-to-field migration of pests, and to keep pest management costs within affordable levels.

2. Scouting to stop calendar-based sprays. Pesticide application only when required.

3. Rearing beneficial insects to cut back on chemical pesticides as far as possible.

4. Resistance monitoring to choose the most appropriate molecule for a brood or a colony.

5. Village community announcements for precautions to avoid exposure during coordinated spraying programs; also to prevent spraying during strong breeze conditions.

6. Pesticide sprays using remote controlled devices to avoid acute toxicity.

7. ph and microbe-based methods to degrade contaminated soil and water.

8. Surveillance to prevent farm produce leaving the village with pesticide residues above permissible limits. Also, annual medical camps to detect pathologies in time.

9. Review and feedback sessions to learn from seasonal experiences, and to plan for the next crop.

10. Extension work to spread relevant technologies for safe and judicious use of pesticides.

All 10 steps are suitable for supervision by village women. The skills required are convenient to develop, and the Internet is an economical medium of real-time communication.

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