August 2014 The less human beings interfere with nature, the more they benefit from it. This has been amply proven by the cotton growers of Jind district in Haryana in Northern India. Encouraged by farming activist Surendra Dalal, they stopped using pesticide to protect the crops and began to depend on the natural cycle of insect control. The result was a bumper yield and a cascade of prosperity for the farmers. Farmers looking for insects in a plant in Jind, Haryana The use of pesticide, instead of increasing the yield, destroyed the crops and drowned the farmers in debt. Explaining the phenomenon, Angrejo Devi, a farmer from Needhana village, says, “The crop is attacked by two kinds of insects, first the herbivore insects which eat the plants, and second the carnivore insects that eat the herbivore insects. The chemical pesticide killed only the carnivorous insects, leaving the herbivorous insects free to plunder the standing crop. This affected not only cotton but other crops as well.” But now they do not consider insects as their enemy anymore. “We have stopped killing insects as they are necessary for plants. “When the number of herbivore insects increases, the carnivores automatically come and eat the former. So the balance is maintained automatically. Farmers still need to inspect the crop, to make sure that the balance is maintained.” This form of cultivation, introduced in 2007 by Surendra Dalal, who was posted in Needhana by the Agriculture Department, has transformed the lives of agrarians in Jind. At that time an insect called the American ballworm had destroyed the entire crop in the region. Says Kamal Saini, the district agricultural officer, “Dalal introduced this relatively new method after much research and study. At the time the cotton yield per acre was 20 kg as opposed to the normal yield of 800-1,200 kgs. After the adoption of this new technique the farmers’ income has risen since they get a bumper crop and save $500 per year, which was spent earlier on buying pesticide.” Angrejo Devi was able to build a house and marry off her daughter with the money she earned by adopting this form of cultivation.The government of Haryana is now sponsoring an awareness initiative to help spread the method to other villages. Fourteen villages in Jind have adopted this practice, and the message is spreading to Punjab and Uttarakhand too.
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