OBJECTIVE: To provide farmers in India with a cheaper and eco-friendly pest management alternative to costly pesticides.
RATIONALE: Helicoverpa armigera (pod borer) is a pest that attacks nearly 200 crops including cotton, beans, cereals, vegetables and fruits, causing annual global losses amounting to US$2 billion. An additional US$500 million is spent on insecticides to control this voracious pest. Usage of pesticides in India has steadily increased leading to erosion of farmers’ incomes, insect resistance to insecticides, pesticide residues in the food chain, and the resurgence of minor pests such as white fly in cotton. This indiscriminate and excessive use of pesticides has also increased morbidity and mortality rates. Managing H. armigera in South Asia is critical since it not only affects the livelihoods of poor farmers but also contributes to environmental pollution and operational health hazards.
methods to control the pests are 85 percent effective. The project encourages farmers to return to traditional methods and train them to introduce the nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV), a viral disease that causes heavy mortality in pod borers without harming other organisms. NPV can be produced for one-third the cost of pesticides and has the added benefit of creating an additional income-generating opportunity for farmers. The project will reach 50,000 farmers in 100 villages, and directly train 300 farmers in NPV production. Increased productivity, reduced cost of inputs and yield loss, a paired low pesticide-use will have tremendous economic, health and environment benefits.