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Farmers urged to use botanical pesticides

November 12, 2010

Farmers urged to use botanical pesticides


March 28, 2009, 5:10pm

Organic farming advocates are urging farmers and gardeners to make use of botanical pesticides that they can produce themselves if they want to grow healthier food.

Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) and Go Organic! Philippines spokesman Atty. Efren Moncupa said it is now time for farmers and gardeners to wean themselves from the use of chemical pesticides in crop production.

Alternative pest control practices could be employed to ensure that vegetable gardens are free from chemicals that also threaten the water table and contaminate streams, rivers and lakes.

These practices include integrated pest management and use of microbial inoculants.

While mechanical means like picking off insects or removing affected plant parts that are diseased are proper cultural practices and are popularly used, the employment of botanicals to combat pests is also on the rise.

Leandro Aure, a researcher on effective microorganisms, says the increase in humidity, unclean culture and planting susceptible crop varieties trigger attacks by pests.

Cabigas and Moncupa have been working to promote natural farming as part of a larger campaign of the Department of Agriculture to transform 10 percent of the total agricultural land in the country into organic farms.

They are also pushing for the use of microorganisms as soil inoculants and as natural pesticides to protect crops and increase the output of organic farms.

Aure says healthy soil favors the growth and development of vigorous crops that rarely become diseased or are attacked by insect pests.

“With the use of plants that have obnoxious odor or have medicinal properties like spices and fermented by using EM, the farmer can have a high grade of botanical pesticide,” he says.

The resulting solution is called EM-Fermented Plant Extract or EM-FPE. When sprayed onto plants, they acquire a “natural shield” from attack by insects or pathogenic microorganisms.

Dominant microorganisms actually dictate the condition of the plant and when EM-FPE is regularly sprayed, the good microorganisms outnumber the pathogens.

Known as competitive exclusion, there is simply no space left for the pathogens to occupy as the good bacteria simply outnumber them.

“There might be other reasons other than the natural phenomenon like the make-up of the leaves are improved since the thickness of the leaves can prevent easy penetration of pathogens or pests and there is increased photosynthesis resulting in vigorous growth of the plants. There are photosynthetic bacteria in EM. These plants, when fermented, produce enzymes, hormones and other bio-active substances that help plants cope with stress,” Aure says.

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