Thursday, August 7, 2008

Indigenous Insights on Pesticides and Pest Management

It was late on the afternoon of July 25th 2008 when Hrishit Shroff suggested that we visit one of his family farms called Ravi Bag in Kutch, Western India. It had been a long day, but Hrishit is a dear friend, so I agreed.

The farm manager, Pratap Saparia in the photograph above, did not make any special first impression on me. After all, I am the pest management authority: what can any farm manager teach me?

The child in the photograph intrigued me. He is Pratap Bhai's younger son. He had the courage, unlike his elder brother and his sister, to ask for a ride in Hrishit's car. His name, appropriately, is Bahadur.

You can tell from the picture that Ravi Bag has a cotton field. You can guess, if you know Kutch, that this farm must be irrigated, because you cannot have such tall plants in July if you depend on heavenly precipitation alone.

I can vouch for pest management at Ravi Bag. It is immaculate. I did my best, but could find no pests. Grudgingly, I asked Pratap Bhai for details of his plant protection schedule. I was taken aback by his answer. I have it all on audio file. Send me an email at if you want a copy. I assure you that Pratap Bhai can teach a thing or two to any pest management expert.

Here is a clue to Pratap Bhai's secret weapons:

I have realized, after my July 2008 Ravi Bag visit, that there is no substitute for practical farm-management experience. However, all was not lost for me as I found that Bahadur had a skin infection and some dental problems as well.

Is it time to move from plant health alone to rural health as a whole?

Here is a picture, in the meantime, of the full Saparia family of Ravi Bag. Daughter Jetal on the right does very well at school. The future of Mother India is safe.

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