A success story in organic control of pest: Magic traps of Nangarpur, Jessore

The Nangarpur Magic Traps are so popular among farmers here in Jessore and elsewhere in Bangladesh that demand for those have increased very quickly. But ironically the supply is so little that, we farmers face problems in expanding this new found device for controlling pests in a natural, environment-friendly, safe and secured way to boost crop production,? elderly farmer Nazrul Islam Khan, an organiser of Gaitghat Krishi Club, Nagarpur, a remote village under Sadar Upazila in Jessore, told a group of journalists on July 5, 2007. Braving torrential rains, the farmer was sharing his long battle against harmful pest attacks in the locality, how scarcity of safe and low-cost pest management inputs still compelling farmers to spray harmful and costly pesticides, hampering what many a farmers billing as a success story of the continuous efforts of a number of scientists to control pests in a natural and organic manner.

Scientists have persuaded the farmers to use pheromone traps and beneficial insects in vegetable fields to control harmful pests naturally, but neither the scientists nor the government so far ensured sufficient supply of those inputs. They [scientists] trained us to apply pheromone traps and beneficial insects on our crops to control pests, said Khan and regretted, But these inputs are available neither in the market nor in their [scientists] stock. Once the farmers got pheromone traps and beneficial insects at no cost, but now they are anxious to buy them to protect their crops, he said. We simply want an adequate supply of those inputs.

Synthetic pheromones

The scientists of the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute provided synthetic sex pheromones and beneficial insects to a number of farmers in vegetable growing hubs like Jessore, Narsingdi, Comilla, Bogra and Pabna to experiment and find out if these inputs could replace harmful pesticides to reduce damage to public health as well as reduce production cost. Dr Syed Nurul Alam, chief investigator of the entomology division of BARI, told a delegation of Forum of Environmental Journalists of Bangladesh (FEJB), Harmful pests can be controlled by using sex pheromone traps, locally known as jadur phaad (magic trap) and a wide range of biological agents including insects like Trichogramma Wasp, Bracon Wasp and Green Lacewing. The farmers bait traps with synthetic sex pheromones, which emit an odour that mimics the natural odour of the female sex pheromones. Cuelure has been found to be highly effective in controlling pests in fields where brinjal, bean, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, cucumber and gourds are being grown, he said. Baffled by the odour of the female, the male fruit fly is attracted to the Cuelure bait and is trapped. A separate sex pheromone is used for each vegetable as different pests prey on different vegetables.


He said the country needs to adopt the total integrated pest management system as the insecticide-based management system has failed to control many pests. The pests are becoming resistant to almost all chemical pesticides as the frequency of spraying is gradually increasing while their efficacy is gradually decreasing. The frequency of spraying insecticides in a brinjal farm was 84 in 1994. But in 2001 and 2004 the frequency increased to 140 and 160 respectively, he said. Earlier they had to spray only once in a week, now they have to spray at least once everyday. He said biological control involves use of a specially chosen organism to control a specific pest. This chosen organism might be a predator or a parasitoid which attacks harmful insects. He claimed that the use of biological agents has no adverse effect on human health and the cost effectiveness of bio-control measures is very attractive.

Zakir Hossain, organiser of a farmers club at Nangarpur, said the farmers were immensely benefited by using a combination of sex pheromones and beneficial insects when they could no longer control harmful pests even after spraying cocktail insecticides. Damage to production was 40 to 50 per cent even after spraying cocktail insecticidesBut after using sex pheromones and beneficial insects the rate of damage diminished to 10 per cent. We had to spend about Tk 15,000 for chemical pesticides only to produce korela (bitter gourd) in one hectare of landNow, after using sex pheromones and beneficial insects, we have to spend only Tk 4,000 for the same size of land, he said.

The fate of Hamid has changed dramatically. By cultivating environment-friendly vegetables in last couple of years I have turned my mud-golpata house into a building. My family members are now well off. Vegetables have changed our lives, Hamid, a 55-year now happy farmer and father of four sons and a daughter told the journalists standing on the front-yard of his house just few steps from his one bigha and a half vegetable field. Once landless day labourer Safiur Rahman, now owns 15 bighas of land and a pucca house and seven cattles, also said that he had changed his life completely by adopting this method of cultivating vegetables for last few years.

Just eight years back Samad had nothing and was absolute poor. Now, he said, Im thankful to this vegetable field to change my life. Im now owner of 3 bighas of land, a pucca house and 5 milking cows. Graduate Rostams story was no different. He had no job. Now he has a pucca house, motor cycle, shallow machine and mobile and of course 3 bighas of vegetable growing lands to change his life. What they all told us that on the top of income-rise and increased crop output, the Magic Trap of Nangarpur had really brought a revolutionary change in their socio-economic conditions including a significant uplift in terms of education, health and sanitation indicators.

But this is one side of the coin of any development story of any third world developing country. The other side is still gray. That dark side is far more stronger to eaten out any positive development. The presence of a strong import lobby and business coterie of harmful pesticides. Mindless spraying of chemical pesticides has a huge adverse residual affect on human health, nature and biodiversityPeople are becoming physically handicapped or mentally retarded due to the chemical pesticidesThe surface water bodies and underground water reserves are being polluted, said the chief scientific officer of the Regional Agricultural Research Institute in Jessore, Dr M Abdul Matin.


Admitting the scarcity of sex pheromones and beneficial insects, Dr Syed Nurul Alam said, By using huge dozes of pesticides we have destroyed our biodiversity. We have destroyed our friendly insects. We are also making our lives more risky as those harmful pesticides are entering our bodies through the food chain. The government is yet to consent to bulk import and mass use of sex pheromones. Production of beneficial pests, on the other hand, is very limitedIt is still at the laboratory level, he said and regretted that only the BARI and Safe Agro-Biotech Ltd, a private research and business house, produce some beneficial pests in their laboratories.

SABL director Serajul Islam said they produce beneficial pests on a limited scale as their laboratory is still in a nascent state. We expect the government and the private sector entrepreneurs to set up more laboratories to produce beneficial insects for developing a sustainable pest management system. We spray the crops with harmful chemicals as we cannot get organic pesticides in time, Habibur Rahman, a young farmer, told newsmen and added ,Spraying based pest management totally failed to control many a insect pests. Their resilience power is also increasing as the number of spray is on the rise. We farmers are losing bothways since the cost of production is on the rise while output is on the decline because of more pest attacks. On the top of it, we are polluting our environment, eliminating our natural pests and degrading our land by the over use of hazardous pesticides. There will be a big brawl between the local agents of the powerful multinationals and producers of safe pest control inputs, he said. The country imports pesticides worth 800 crore taka every yearIts a huge business.

Another scientist pointed out that the multinationals which produce chemical pesticides are politically very powerful. So the government will have to be firm in dealing with the machinations of the multinationals. However, Agriculture Secretary M Abdul Aziz assured the farmers at a rally in the noon at Shaheed Sirajuddin Hosain College that government would ensure the mass use of sex pheromones, adequate production of beneficial pests and supply of inputs required for integrated pest management

After visiting the experimental farming site and opening a fair on it, the Agriculture Secretary described the Magic Trap as a successful devise and assured them that he would try his best to replicate it across the country. He also assured them of improving the marketing facilities of the safe and environment-friendly agricultural crops and setting up a number of growers markets across the country so that they could get the fair prices of their produces. Aziz sought the support of the farmers in this regard. We are really happy that Agriculture Secretary listened to the farmers on the field, heard our concerns and our problems. He listened to the farmers of not only Nangarpur but also heard the voices of farmers from Pabna, Comilla, Bogra and other districts here today. ..Look at the eastern sky. Look at the rainbow. This is like our rainbow of hopes. Hope, this time our dream of a self-reliant farmland wont dash like this rainbow, Ayub Hosain, an organiser of farmers movement in Nangarpur expressed his happiness as well as worries this way at the assurance of the Agricultural Secretary showing the visiting journalists a rainbow in the eastern sky.

Ayub was not alone there. Farmers from different experiment sites from across the country were there to raise their concerns, share their stories of field successes and urge the government to replicate the Magic Traps of Nangarpur throughout Bangladesh for turning this movement into an agrarian revolution led by the farmers. Will millions of Ayubs dream be dashed away once again like many a third world development stories citing the scale problem That itself is a billion dollar question only the future can tell (Holiday , July 13, 2007).

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