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Case Study: Food Security & Nutrition

Improving Harvests Through Integrated Pest Management

Farming First Farming First

Chili farmers in Andra Pradesh used to lose up to 40 percent of their harvest to pest infestations. With poor quality crops, farmers failed to secure high prices in the market. In addition, excessive use of crop protection products resulted in high pesticide residue levels in produce, compromising food safety and risking rejection for export.

Muvva Ramachandrao has grown chilies for more than 35 years in India’s Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. Yet, he struggled to protect his crops from disease and pests, losing up to 40 percent of his crop on average.

To solve the problem, CropLife India joined with the Department of Agriculture to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs throughout the state. These training sessions are designed to help farmers identify plant diseases and insect infestations and decide on the type and quantity of pesticides to use according to instructions on the labels. IPM helps farmers cut costs, improve crop quality and add value to their harvest. The partners have trained some 1,400 farmers on IPM in villages across Guntur in the form of seminars, field training and field demonstrations.

After participating in CropLife India’s IPM program, Ramachandrao has learnt strategies to use even in the early stages of cultivation. In the past, he would liberally apply fertilizer to his crops – an often inefficient and unnecessary practice. Aiming to encourage improved habits, project officers tested his soil to see which nutrients it lacked. Now, Ramachandrao only has to purchase and apply fertilizers to provide the missing nutrients. He also discovered that treating his seeds with pesticides before sowing in the field saves five to six spray cycles. With these new practices, Ramachandrao’s family can now focus on other productive activities, instead of dedicating all of their time, money and energy to farming.

When his chilies started to look healthier, turning brighter in color, Ramachandrao realized that his new techniques were indeed successful. Soon, one of the biggest chili exporters in India began to buy directly from Ramachandrao’s farm – and he was soon getting premium prices for his harvest. This process was facilitated by a government institute at Kochi, set up by the Spices Board to test chilies for export quality.

With increased savings and improved earnings, chili farming has become profitable for Ramachandrao’s family. Becoming debt-free was only one of the many benefits.

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