Syngenta India steps up efforts on pink bollworm management

Syngenta has set up 3 model farms in Yavatmal, and 13 in Amravati Division for practical demonstration on pest management and safe practices

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Mumbai: To protect cotton farmers from the menace of pink bollworm (PBW), the Yavatmal District Administration and Syngenta India have taken urgent measures to help farmers deal with the challenge, including setting up three Model Farms in the district to give practical demonstrations to farmers on PBW management.
For over two years, Maharashtra Government has appointed Syngenta as the nodal company to work closely with Yavatmal farmers on awareness including training them on professional methods of spraying. There has been a significant decline in the number of farmers reporting pesticides inhalation, and zero fatality in the last three years. Rural and district doctors are also being trained in treatment of pesticides inhalation cases. Syngenta has adopted a multi-layered collaborative approach to ensure zero exposure. Syngenta has set up a total of 13 model farms in Amravati division.
Recently, in presence of District Collector Amol Yedge (IAS), Syngenta officials conducted a Field Day on Crop Solution and Safe Use Practice at a model cotton farm in Saikheda village, Kelapur Taluka, Yavatmal on Thursday. The Collector issued numerous advisories to farmers and other stakeholders and said that every stakeholder must work to ensure the safety of all farmers.
SADO and officials of agriculture department, district administration, farmers and members of Indian Medical Association and NGO joined this virtual session that was addressed among others by Yedge and Syngenta India’s Chief Sustainability Officer Dr KC Ravi.
Applauding Syngenta India for organizing the field demonstration, Yedge said that in view of good rains since June, crops have rapidly grown taller in height. In view of this there is a need to take all precautions while spraying on tall plants, as risks of inhalation are higher in such a situation. “Farmers should not drink water or chew tobacco while spraying. We must ensure the best Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices are followed along with utmost care while spraying,” Sri Yedge added, while highlighting the need for compulsory wearing of PPE kits.
Advising farmers, Yedge said, “You should wear masks, gloves and goggles while spraying pesticides. Also follow the guidelines of the Agriculture Department regarding mixing of pesticides and their quantity. If our farmers take precautions, I guarantee that every farmer will be safe,” he said.
Syngenta has been working closely with the Government of Maharashtra on farmers’ health and safety in Yavatmal and Satara districts since 2017. “As per the advice of the Commissioner of Agriculture, we have developed 13 cotton model farms in Amravati Division, three of which are in Yavatmal district – to showcase safe and sustainable best practices for pink bollworm management,” Dr Ravi said.
Dr Ravi further said that I-SAFE (Inculcating Safety and Awareness for Farmer Empowerment), a Syngenta CSR initiative, is guided by the vision of the Agriculture Department, Government of Maharashtra. It is constantly working on professionalization of spraying activities and enabling thousands of farmers and spray men in judicious and safe spraying and handling of agro-chemicals. The program is also working on creating spray men Entrepreneurs. Syngenta has also put into service a mobile health van in collaboration with Wockhardt Foundation, which is equipped with a doctor, nurse and medical supplies, and is at the disposal of the district administration to be used for treatment in faraway places. The van caters to about 25,000 people in a year.
“We also roped in a renowned toxicology expert to conduct district level doctors awareness program for those working in primary health centres and district hospitals,” Dr Ravi added. Syngenta also started a first of its kind program of certified professional agri spray men entrepreneurs in 2019 for proper use of PPEs, reading of labels and leaflets, equipment maintenance etc.
During the Field Day, Syngenta officials also informed about a unique ‘Gulabi Abhiyan’ – an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) campaign to offer holistic help to farmers to control and manage the tricky pink bollworm pest, which can damage unto 40% of the crops. The IPM solutions offered by Syngenta allow farmers to effectively deal with PBW. It helps in maintaining hygiene, destroys old bolls and crop stubbles, and monitoring of pest population through pheromone traps. The solution also kills all life stages of the pest; Protects the first flush of flowers; protects almost 50% of the total yield, and helps avoid repeat applications of generic insecticides.
Dr Navnath Kolapkar, SADO, Yavatmal, said that IPM is urgently needed to address the menace of pink bollworm, which is posing a serious threat to cotton crops in the region. ADO, Yavatmal, R V Malode said that increasing awareness among farmers about pest management through best practices comes as a big hope to achieve the goal of sustainable farming. “Consistent efforts involving all stakeholders will do wonders,” he added.
Syngenta in partnership with Wadhwani AI will be embarking on an artificial intelligence based application to track and monitor PBW infestation across cotton growing geographies in India. “This will further help us identify hot spots of pest infestation and take up corrective measures,” said an official.
Prakash Banakar, a cotton farmer from Saikheda village, said that farmers in the area are feeling relieved as ‘Gulabi Abhiyan’ will help them free the cotton crop from pink bollworms. He said that the I-SAFE programme of Syngenta India has made a big difference now so far as the use of pesticides is concerned. “The use of pesticides has become much safer and effective after knowing the best practices from professionals,” he said.