Biocontrol of pests may get a boost

Biocontrol of pests may get a boost

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    ShimonSteinberg ShimonSteinberg
    Shimon Steinberg. Photo: The Hindu

    Karnataka, November 22, 2013

    Biocontrol of pests may get a boost

    B. S. Satish Kumar
    Israel-based pioneer is eyeing India

    The eco-friendly and natural method of biological control of pests in vegetables, fruits and flowers is poised to set foot in the State in a big way with an Israel-based pioneer of this technology expanding its operations to India.

    The State is high on the radar of BioBee which introduced the technology to fight harmful pests with farmer-friendly predatory insects as an alternative to chemical pesticides in Israel long ago.

    BioBee’s Research & Development head Shimon Steinberg, who was here for the International Krishi Mela, told The Hindu that the subsidiary of the company launched its operations in the State about nine months ago.

    According to him, the company has 11 species of predatory insects and small spiders to fight pests in various crops, including capsicum, cucumber, brinjal, tomato and citrus fruits.

    “All these are solutions naturally available and we have not invented them. We are only exploiting this natural phenomenon for human benefits. In an industrial way, we pack them and present them to growers,” he says and notes that the company is exporting them to 32 countries.

    Pointing out that biological control of pests would help do away with the use of harsh chemical pesticides, he says that the process would reduce the harmful impact of chemicals on environment as well as human beings. In Israel, nearly 85 per cent of hi-tech capsicum farming in poly houses is dependent on biological control of pests, he says.

    BioBee is focussing on Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, New Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. It trained eight farmers from the State in Israel, he says.

    However, naturally controlling pests is not new to India as several agricultural universities and central research institutes have put in valuable research efforts in the area.
    Dr. Steinberg says that his company would bring in not just a wide range of natural biocontrol agents but also the system of monitoring this kind of integrated pest management in an effective manner with a two-decade expertise.

    “We know that we need to fight pests specific to India. Hence, we are trying to collaborate with agricultural universities and research centres in India to develop local solutions,” he said.

    Explaining how the predatory insects work, he said that the application would be in the form of spray. This approach will be cheaper in the long-run, he says.