News headlines

from Lenny Barretto
for Daijiworld Media Network - Goa (MB)

Panaji, Jul 21: An innovation by state-based National Agro Institute and Indian Council for Agricultural Research, has helped the economically downtrodden hill cucurbit farmers to fight out devastating pest problems.

The hilly regions like Farmagudi which had faced the worst patch due to infested cucurbits are now heaving a sigh of relief.

Hill Cucurbits (cucumber, ridge gourd, snake gourd and bitter gourd) have been traditionally cultivated by resource-poor and marginal farm families during the khariff in the undulating uplands at the foothills of the western ghats in Goa.

Over the years, the area under these crops has steadily increased and is currently being cultivated in about 300 ha, with maximum area under cucumber followed by ridge gourd, bitter gourd, and snake gourd.

Due to intensive cultivation practices, these crops now face insects, pest and disease problems. Amongst the insect pests, fruit fly Bactocera cucubitae is a key pest resulting in about 20 per cent loss in the yield.

Fruit fly activity as envisaged through captures by cue lure baited traps in Goa, indicated that B cucurbitae was most active at ground level, thereby posing as a major threat to cucumber which was trailed on the ground during the khariff in Goa and consumed mostly as a salad by the people in the state.

Farmers often resort to the use of harmful insecticides on preventive basis to control fruit flies in hill cucurbits, resulting in several disadvantages, including contaminating the fragile hill's agro-ecosystem.

During kharif 2005 and 2006, the ICAR research complex of Goa demonstrated the technique of managing B cucurbitae  in hill cucurbits through on-farm trials using baits – 10 per cent banana/jaggery, three per cent protein hydrolysate – laced with insecticides. These baits were applied in about 10 ha in farms and fields as fine splashes once a week in a 7 by 7 m grid up to the end of commercial fruit production.

Infestation levels were less than ten per cent recorded in plots as compared to nearly twenty per cent recorded in plots that received no bait application. Managing fruit fly with the above bait application technique, reduced the insecticide load on these crops by nearly 90 per cent.

The farmers have now realized the importance of this practice in minimizing the use of insecticides on these vegetable crops.


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