Bio-Pesticides and Bio-Fungicides

Natural pesticide being made. Photo: BCI/Florian Lang

Natural pesticide being made. Photo: BCI/Florian Lang

The Somnath Farmer Producer Organisation (SFPO) has replaced synthetic fungicides with a safer bio-fungicide — a mixture of beneficial fungi and bacteria that prevents fungal diseases —Trichoderma, sourced directly from the manufacturer. The SFPO sold ten tonnes of bio-fungicides to its members in the 2018-19 season alone. 

Ladybird on leaf.

Ladybird on leaf.

Similarly, in the village of Kanakya, Balubhai led an effort to educate farmers on the dangers of using a cheap insecticide that eliminates both pests and their natural predators (like ladybirds). He and his team helped them to replace it completely by providing reliable access to affordable supplies of plant-based natural pesticeds like neem oil (made from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree) and beauveria bassiana (a fungus used as a biological insecticide), firmly establishing these products in the local market. When members cannot afford to buy sustainable alternatives — they can be more expensive than synthetic pesticeds — their improved knowledge of pesticide use enables them to ask conventional pesticide dealers for appropriate products in the right volumes. The pesticide dealers, in turn, are seeing commercial sense in stocking the products farmers want, alongside products carrying higher profit margins, in order to retain their business.

“In addition to changing BCI Farmers’ behaviour and helping them to gain access to healthier alternatives at affordable prices, this also created a positive ripple effect in the local area. Non-BCI Farmers in other villages also learned about the benefits of biological alternatives and began buying them from the knowledge centres, too.”
— BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar

BCI Farmer Vinodbhai Patel harvesting Neem leaves he uses to create a bio-pesticide. Gujarat, India. Photo: BCI/Florian Lang

BCI Farmer Vinodbhai Patel harvesting Neem leaves he uses to create a bio-pesticide. Gujarat, India. Photo: BCI/Florian Lang

The training gained by the SFPO members was also crucial in preventing pesticide resistance. Motivated by profit and with limited agronomic experience, pesticide dealers had typically advised high doses and/or spraying mixtures of pesticides at once for the same pest, which could result in farmers facing a vicious cycle of fighting increased resistance with higher doses. Now, farmers take a more precise and knowledgeable approach to pesticide spraying, and where possible, purchase their bio-pesticides directly from the SFPO knowledge centres.

“We help our members to spray the right, high quality product at the right dose, in a cost-effective way and only when it’s absolutely needed. They trust us to trade ethically and most importantly, in their best interests.”
— BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar

Left to right: BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar, Jitesh Joshi (Ambuja Cement Foundation) and Kiritbhai Jasani (Ambuja Cement Foundation). Photo: BCI/Vibhor Yadav.

Left to right: BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar, Jitesh Joshi (Ambuja Cement Foundation) and Kiritbhai Jasani (Ambuja Cement Foundation). Photo: BCI/Vibhor Yadav.

In the 2014-5 season, the SFPO decided to leapfrog the middle man – traders – and obtain further discounted bulk buys by dealing directly with manufacturers. They began dealing directly with a manufacturer of neem oil and trichoderma, sharing the cost savings among them.

“This empowerment of farmers — not only of BCI Farmers, but all farmers in the community — is a major achievement for the Somnath Farmer Producer Organisation towards advancing sustainability.”
— Jitesh Joshi, Ambuja Cement Foundation

Photo: BCI/Khaula Jamil.

Photo: BCI/Khaula Jamil.