(Paper Read out at a work shop on Homoeopathy in the field of Agricultural Organized by Institute for cultural Research and Action Bangalore in August, 1992)
BY DR. G.S.R.MURTHI
HOMOEOPATHIC PLANT PROTECTION
(CHALLENGES AHEAD – TIME FOR NEW ORIENTATION IN THE FIELD OF PLANT PROTECTION)
Agriculture continue to be the back – bone of India’s prosperity. According to FAO’s estimates, food production in developing countries must be increased by more than 60% in the next 25 years, in order to cope up with growth of population. To face this challenge, farming should be more intensive as the area under cultivation can no longer be increased. On quantification, an additional 120 million tonnes of food grains are to be produced over and above a quantity of 195 million tonnes, as at present. That means an additional production of 20 – 25 tonnes are to be raised every 5years.
Indian farmers and agricultural scientists are putting tremendous efforts to achieve this task. Because of the persistent efforts there is a quantum jump in foodgrain production since 1960 – 61. There is more than 2 fold increase in food grain production in these years. This resulted in a tremendous change in the Agro – Echo – systems (AES). Intensive cultivation of crops, mono – cropping, highly susceptible fertilizer responsive crop varieties, hybrids and year – round cultivation change in weather conditions and increased use of chemical pesticides are the chief factors for this change. This finally resulted in spurt in pest and disease activity, leading to recurring outbreaks of epizootics or epiphytotics. A conservative estimate figured the annual recurring loss of Rs.6000 – 7000 crores due to crop enemies, highlighting the importance of plant protection in agricultural production technology. The urge to fulfil the needs of growing population developed a tendency to use new and better methods of pest control, though resulted in increase in food production for a very short period, have led to disastrous stage. The use of chemical pesticide shadowing the other safe methods of pest control gave temporary results warranting repeated application and shooting up the cost of cultivation. This resulted in increase of pesticide consumption from a meager amount of 2330 tonnes at the beginning to 90,000 tonnes in 1985 and is expected to cross 2lak tonnes by 2000AD. In this case, our country occupies 3rd position in the world. The use of chemical pesticides is not evenly balanced for different crops. Out of 32% of the total cropped area, 5% is shared by cotton, 24% by rice and 3% by vegetables and fruits, which receive 82 – 87 % of pesticide share. Out of which 52 – 55% by cotton. 17 – 18 % by rice. The balance 58% of cropped are is covered by cereals, millets and oil seeds which receive 6 – 7 % of pesticides. This imbalance directly affects the environment and the people who live in that area.
Agriculture, no doubt has been revolutionized by the chemicals both for fertilization and crop protection. The effect of synthetic chemicals in agriculture has dramatically changed the age long tradition in indian agricultural scenario has been totally upset and technical expertise has intruded into. The farming community whether educated or uneducated is now standing in chaos looking for a scientist and technical adviser and technicians to correct the wrongs created by the scientific advancement. This is now in turn necessitating production of “Plant Doctors” and the need for doctor’s advise and assistance. Commercialization is also being advocated and practiced by certain agricultural universities, which is indeed a dangerous trend.
Now conventional agricultural means using chemicals, but with some expertise. This is a more flexible method as it can be scheduled well in advance, for anticipated problems or can be quickly adapted in any emergency for quick but temporary results. Thus the exploitation of chemical pesticides is being made at an alarming pace by man in order to ensure dominance and get strategic control of the crop enemies, upsetting the natural equilibrium. Thus the agricultural situation prior to “Green Revolution” which was a traditional, ecological and biological input based crop production has been shifted to scientific, chemical, mechanical and technical input based agricultural.
Increased use of pesticides cause contamination and pollution of air, soil and surface and ground water, besides poisoning the plants, crops and produces (food grains) cute poisoning is often caused by careless use of chemical pesticides. Long time exposure affects animals and biological systems. Carcinogenic, teratogenic and tumorogenic affects are the worth mentioning dangerous hazards. Prolonged use of chemical pesticides are responsible for pesticide resistance through production of new bio – types and patho – types, pest resurgence, residual toxicity and destruction of useful fauna like redataors and parasites.
BHC is widely used in India to control pests of different crops owing to its low cost and efficacy in killing certain pests. Other chlorinated hydro – carbons like D.D.T, heptachloraldrin are not so common as. These cyclic hydrocarbons with chlorine sustitutes block ring oxidation and are resistant to bio – degradation. There persists for longer periods in the environment and accumulate in animas and are carcenogenic, This exposes humans to the risk of cancer. Indians are fortunate at least now, the Government of India, banned the use of BHC from 1.4.97 provided the ban is implemented and followed.
Because of constant and large scale use of these pesticides, in states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarath, Utter Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, West Bengal, experience more pest outbreaks like white files, in cotton, BPH and leaf folded in rice, psyllids and borers in sugarcane, phalais minor in wheat, leading to destabilization of production. Recently the cotton boll worm (helicoverpa Armigera) developed several fold resistance to many insecticides in Guntur and Prakasam Districts of Andhra Pradesh in Khariff ’87, resulting in total devastation of the crops leading to suicides by farmers. Resistance has also been developing fast to many pests and insects like rice blast, smut of wheat and maize, phytophthora etc.,
A slogan which must be remembered by one and all is “Your health is your food and plants health is its food”. So it is your responsibility to keep the plants healthy. A source of continuous and most serious phenomena is being expressed by children. Another serious phenomena is being expressed by scientists that, these are most likely to affect the genes even and the health hazards of future generations can well be visualised if we are concerned about it. Report from S.G.KABRA and Co – Workers of SMS medical College, Jaipur highlights that, out of 15000 births in two maternity hospitals, gros congenital defects in 115 case were noticed, of which 69 have born without brain (71% of which are females ), due to pesticides residues. Dr. Agarwal Director for Science and Environment. Delhi in the Foreword of the book titled “HOMICIDE BY PESTICIDE” opinied that Delhites are consuming significant amounts of pesticides, through drinking water sources. He further stated that undiscovered and invisible pollutants weakens the immune system or the self protecting system of the human beings making them susceptible to respiratory (ailments, gastro – intestinal disorders and the worst the cancer (The hindu dated 23 /2 /97).
Another disastrous effect of ground water pollution reported by Dr.BIDUDHENDRA SARKAR appeared in Indian Express on 5 – 3 – 1997 is worth mentioning here “The eastren parts of west Bengal and the adjoining areas of Bangladesh are sitting on a public health crisis which could be worse than “CHEMICAL AND BHOPAL DISASTERS” says a medical expert after visiting the area. More than 40 million people in west Bengal and Bangladesh are exposed to the risk of ARSENIC POISONING from contaminated water, the magnitude and scriousness unlike any thing else, I have witnessed in my entire professional life Dr. BIBUDHENDRA SARKAR, an arsenic poisoning expert said.
The West bengal Government needs 200 million dollars to pipe arsenic free water from ganges to the affected areas, but this could take up to 20 years according to Dr. SARKAR. In parts of west bengal the arsenic content is 70 times the safe level stipulated by W.H.O., he says.
According to Dr.SARKAR the arsenic poisoning was a result of the Green revolutions intensive farming practices. In an attempt to grow 3 – 4 crops a year, thousands of deep tube wells were dug for the large scale withdrawal of ground water exposure to oxygen causes breakdown of sulphides in the arsenic ladden pyrite rock and leads to release of arsenic into the water.
In the women’s day celebrations Mrs. RASHMI MAYUR feels that the determination of natural environment like destruction of forest cover, receding water in many places making women from poor families to struggle for fetching water and firewood from far. The impact of deterioration of natural environment, on women has been cruel and seldom recognized. She feels that women should challenge the destruction of the ecological system in the name of progress and development. (Indian express dt. 8.3.97).
Another fact not normally like phytotoxicity, pollen sterility, growth retardation and poison residues noticed, following the use of certain agro – chemicals. It has also been reported that due to presence of high levels of pesticidal residues in our vegetable produces, foreign countries rejected them and as a result our exports had to face a great set – back.
Because of use of soil pesticides the population of beneficial microbes, earth worms and predators etc., are totally eradicated making the soil a more dust bowl without any life in it.
The earthworms, which are converting about 139 tonnes of “N” every year into fertilizer, for which energy bill is paid by nature, are totally killed by these soil pesticides. Though the value and need to nature the earthworms is realized, yet only a minor percentage is making attempts to improve the soil fertility by increasing the earthworms, large amount of the total “N” demand through proper husbandry of microbes in crop production system (Venkata Raman 1988 – IARI, Delhi). Earthworms which are called “farmers friends” play a critical role in the conversion of waste organic matter into a very valuable manure (Vermi – compost). Because of large scale use of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides., their population is almost reduced to zero.
These losses cannot be estimated but can be realized by the fall of yields and the immediate and apparently good results of the present day by chemical farming, may no longer lure the farmers and the society at large.
Even though the Scientists failed to foresee, the role of conventional synthetic pesticides in the GREEN REVOLUTION, and the hazards and non – Target effects, now necessitates a serious revaluation of pest – pathogen management strategies. Therefore attention is being focussed on alternative methods of crop protection, by good many advance thinkers and a few conscientious Scientists and administrators, as there is an urgent need to replace the present methods, with a safer and efficient systems, keeping in view, the sustainability factor. For an appropriate planning of future horizons, following are the essentials.
A full understanding, correct assessment and full utilization of the existing science and technology?
Exploration and thorough research on the new methods, by extending a big helping hand for research and study.
Explore and identify a method which can act a via – media for a safer change over, i.e., for a new fast acting emergency technology immediately, before evolving a permanent and safer technology.
At this Juncture, I think it is prudent to refer the opinion of an eminent agricultural scientist Dr. M.S.Swaminathan who felt that, it is time for new orientation in the agricultural production systems in which ecological sustainbility and equity in the use of natural resources, should constitute all agricultural and rural development programs to restore the damaged eco – systems.
As a via – media, and as a first step adoption of “Integrated pest pathogen Management” (IPPM), to minimize usage of pesticides and yet can retain control over pests. IPPM is for adoption by farmers not for the farmers. It makes farmers to become managers and decision makers, provided they follow it scrupulously. The correct IPPM advocates suppression of pest populations below ETL, paying due regard to specific environmental concerns and fluctuations in pathogenic populations cultural, agricultural, bio – technological and chemical methods, with program for monitoring and assesment and correct diagnosis of pest population and crop damage etc., and judiciously and with caution, resorting as a last resort to chemicals.
The future crop protection has to be practised in even more intelligent manner, not relying solely as modern means of protection technology alone, but combining with tested and tried traditional or similar new methods, harmonising economic and ecological aspects, as factor of equal value. Therefore environmentally being farming technologies and knowledge intensive integrated organic farming systems are challenges. In this context, I would like to refer the observations made by MR wisner, Us Ambassador to India, “The greatest challenge that India faced in the economic progress was that, achieving sustainable development. If India can achieve this, it would be a message to emerge economies that, they need not mortgage the health of their children and grand children for the sake of brighter economic future. (Hindu Date : 26 – 02 – 1997).
The concept of Sustainable resource management implies that land, water, climate, flora and fauna, which are basic natural resources for agricultural development should be conserved and utilised judiciously since agricultural development cannot subsist if the natural resource base is deteriorated. If such a strategy is adopted, needs of the present can be met without compromising with the ability of resources, to meet the needs of the future. Thus a holistic management of natural resource base is the need of the hour, on which integrated intensive farming system, relied heavily on.
Bio – Control of fauna constitute a formidable force in the natural suppression of crop pests. Nearly 40 – 60 % pests are controlled naturally through parasites, predators and pathogens, therefore it has become not only prudent but even mandatory to use bio – control systems to manage pests like boll worms and caterpillars of cotton, leaf – folder and stem – borer in rice, shoot – borers and pyrilla in sugar – cane. This can be achieved if bio – control agents like spiders, lady bird beetles, damsel flies and ground beetles are not destroyed by indiscriminate and non – judicious application. Many developed countries, after having passed these stages earlier, have already initiated action to prevent misuse or abuse of pesticides, either by banning or strictly restricting the use of Hazardous pesticides.
Man of late is slowly realizing that preservation of equilibrium is the duty of nature and it has been quite clear that, by killing or eradicating due pest, thre appears another, in some other modified form, but more stronger than the earlier. This is now being realised slowly by some wise thinkers, who are working for repellants or to develop defence mechanism in the plant, which can either survive by its strength from the onslaught or by not giving room for the pest to be a host and breed on it. Plants produce a wide range of metabolites as defense weapons. Botanical pesticides do not aim to kill the pest, but they affect metamarphosis and fecundity antifeedent (repellant) activity, phagodeterrence and triggering host defence. Thus multiple type of pest control action is possible. This analogy gave birth to Homoeopathic plant protection. The details will be taken up later.
A safer approach for plant protection is the use of Botanical pesticides. Many plant products were used in ancient days in India as pesticides prevention and preservatives. There are approximately 2121 plant species known to posses pest control properties and another 200 – 300 varieties are supposed to possess such property. Osimum sanctum as a purifier of air and many other uses for human beings. Neem is most extensively used for many purposes as preventive, curative etc., Ficus, calotropis, Hydrocotyle, Iglefolia, Achyranthus, sorghum,Pudina, Garlic and Several others are well known to anciests who were using freely, for the cure of diseases of human beings. They have too low mammalian toxicity and harmless to beneficial insects and microbes like predators, parasites etc., and to soil micro – flora. It is unfortunate that, this science is slowly vanishing off, with the advent of intrusion of (Chemicals). The same thing occurred in Agricultural science that, with the advent of intrusion of chemical, the ancient indian farming and its knowledge, unfortunately took a deadly turn to the detriment of agriculture. Time does not allow bad to continue and after all nature is there to save the mankind. So a fews advanced thinkers started to develop botanical pesticides. Sri. M.N.Sukhatwe of Pune developed a herbal pesticide called “Indiara” two decades ago (reported in indian Express dt.4.3.97) from out of common herbs like mustard and garlic in 1970. It further reports “He is now working in the field of organic farming and says”Indiara could be the hope of the future but the RED TAPE in India has prevented this country from showing its promise to the world. Locked hands with Central Insecticide Board in New Delhi over Marketing his product, has now given up the hope of even doing so”.
Indiara’s efficacy has been established by leading research institutes and pesticide manufacturers located in USA, Germany, Australia, Holland and Philippines. This is an example of light of useful inventions in Agricultural field in India.
However, one should be happy that efforts to find out appropriate alternative systems to reduce over dependence on chemicals, have been started at the present critical juncture, with all seriousness in our country also. But we are already late in correcting the expensive errors of the past. The result is that we are way behind as far as science and technology is concerned. No wonder our pens have more fountain than pen. Are we really going wrong in science and technology? Perhaps what late great scientist Einstein said in respect of some scientists “More scientists take a block of wood, find the thinnest part and go on drilling large number of holes there. Perhaps our scientific community is trying to rediscover the wheel, as a result, we are lagging behind. No doubt there is some move at present time, to find out viable alternatives in plant protection strategies. Our attempts are like the Greek myth of Sisyphylis. A man was required to roll a stone eternally up a hill. While he climbed a few steps, the stone rolled down and pulled him down. This let him never could move a few yards, not to talk of reaching the hill top. The story of proverbial drunk, who lost his keys in the night and was searching under a street light there was light there, knowing fully well that the keys were lost in the dark alleys, but did not search there, because there was no light there!
THE BIRTH OF HOMOEOPATHI PLANT PROTECTION:
Necessity is the mother of INVENTION. During the year 1986 when there was high incidence of gall – midge in paddy in Palakonda area in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, a farmer knowing that I am working for Homoeopathic nutrition, approached me and asked me to try with Homoeopathic medicines, to control and save several thousands of rice nurseries, as all other methods including application of granules failed utterly. I took it up as a challenge and visited the affected nurseries of 10 – 15 days old. The incidence was very high and the damage was even 90%. With some hypothetical conclusions, I have tried with a few medicines individually and in combinations, in about 35 nurseries with5 to 6 replications. To my astonishment, one of the homoeo formulae saved the nurseries in all the replications. The rest of thousands of nurseries were lost and they had to raise them again for the 2nd or even 3rd time. This nursery including a few others, could be transplanted (with one application) and the crop in about 3 acres was raised with another application of the same plant protector as a preventive, without any effect of gall – midge where as in several thousands of acres, forate granules supplied on subsidy could save only 50 – 60%. Thus the birth of Homoeopathic plant protection took place. This efficacy led me to test the same formula and several others, on many pests and diseases with success in majority, but with failures also. An irony – seing my success in controlling Gall – midge the Agricultural Officer took me to a post – martum meeting of the scientists under the chair of District Collector. During the session the Agricultural Officer who witnessed the successful control with homoeo announced the same in the meeting. Everyone heard of it, with applause but all kept MUM! At the end of the meeting while we were coming out the collector called and asked “What are the medicines and potencies you have used?” !!! I simply replied for courtesy sake. _ This is a classic Indian.
It is very apt to quote the view expressed by an eminent herbalist, botanist and Homoeo follower (Mrs) Dr.Dorothy shephered of U.K.(Early 20th century) at this stage. “It should be admitted that the inorganic minerals which are used so freely in agriculture do show at first an increased growth of the plants, enormous cabbage, cauli flower etc., are produced but in time, diseases become ripe and the fertility rate of the soil decreases appreciably. Not only that, but the humus and radiation through the soil disappear, because man is working against and not with the nature. The rhythmic balance is disturbed, and in time one finds that instead of the soil being bound together, the biological action is greatly interfered with and the earth becomes more like fine dust without any life in at all -----------. Those wonderfully such lands which were found in North America only a short hundred years or so ago are now fast becoming vast dust bowls ---------------. And gradually we shall have similar conditions arising here, comparable to that of Gobi desert in central Asia and Sahara Desert in North Africa --------.
Homoeopathy envisages potentization, to the required degree varying from 0 to infinity. By potentization, the chemicals or poisonous matter in the plant is converted into molecular from and its latent powers are liberated, which when introduced into plant through soil, triggers the host defence, to ward off the threat from crop enemies, keeping the plant system safe, without leaving any residues. Infact, if the plant nutrients when properly selected and applied to the plant, makes the soil and plant system healthy so that harmful forces and insects do not find the host to be any longer congenial to live and hatch. When the cause is external i.e., invasion, the nutrition alone may not ward off, in which case, the host defence mechanism is to be triggered by an application of plant protector.
Under the same analogy, in these 11 years of constant study and experimentation, the following pests and diseases could be treated with success, with Homoeo Plant Protectors.
- Gall – Midge of rice
- Hispa of rice
- Leaf folder of rice
- Caterpillar of ground nut
- Sucking complex of chillies
- Ephids of flowering plants
- Mealy bug of mango
- Tea mosquito of cashew
- Mealy bug of mango
- All pests and diseases in coconut including
- The dreaded disease ganoderma on coconut (Proved in a scientific expermentation)
- There is no poison in the medicines that are used for plant protection and hence is ECOLOGICALLY, FRIENDLY, a great boon to the mankind at large.
- There is no harm to the user or to the animals, bacteria, predators and other useful organisms.
- The farmer need not wait for the poisonous residues to be lost, before harvest.
- The produces do not loose their quality, taste etc.,
- The potency can be varied depending on the intensity.
- The switch over to the new system is easy as there are no technicalities involved.
I thankfully acknowledge with gratitude for the financial assistance extended once to me for the improvement of the formulae etc., by CAPART, New Delhi in 1992
Master Agro Products,
MIG-62, OZP Colony,