BioBee Biological Systems, an Israeli company that specializes in biologically-based integrated pest management has reported that it is launching operations in India. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method of contending with agricultural pests that aims to reduce the use of harsh chemical pesticides.
BioBee implements this method by mass rearing of beneficial insects and mites that provide natural enemies for biological pest control. BioBee also produces and supplies bumblebees for natural pollination which are used globally for pollination of tomatoes grown in protected structures (polyhouses and nethouses).
The idea behind the system is to achieve a balance between the pest population and their natural enemies. If this balance is achieved, the spraying of pesticides is reduced to minimum and agricultural produce can safely be collected without fear of chemical residues. BioBee claims the system is an effective and economical alternative to the conventional pest control practices. IPM, they say, can reduce risks for the environment, growers and consumers of agricultural products.
Recent health scares concerning food, especially in the non-Western world where safety standards are less stringent, have created a unique need for such alternatives. India is one place where BioBee sees a future for their product. Though at present most of the agricultural produce in India stays within the local market, in recent years intense efforts have been made to encourage agricultural exports. This is problematic for many Indian growers because exporting to places such as Western Europe, North America, or Japan requires them to meet extremely stringent standards of low chemical residues.
India is ripe for the picking
This is where BioBee has decided to step in. The company’s operations in India concentrate initially in Maharashtra and Karnataka. There, the company employs a team of trained local agronomists that advises the region’s farmers and helps them implement the new technology. Israeli specialists also provide training, guidance and supervision on the ground.
Shachar Carmi, BioBee’s marketing manager explains: “The decision to begin operations in India is based primarily on the receptiveness and willingness of growers in the country to adopt the most advanced technological solutions, and their increasing awareness of the many advantages of biologically based Integrated Pest Management.”
According to Carmi, Integrated Pest Management is used in 90 percent of capsicum (pepper plants) greenhouses and 80 percent of strawberry fields in Israel. He claims that BioBee’s solutions have also proven successful in many other crops, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, roses, gerbera, grapes and citrus, to mention a few.
BioBee has successfully passed trials in India for receiving import permits and is cooperating with India’s National Centre for Integrated Pest Management and the National Research Center for Grapes.