Published: Monday 15 September 1997

More please

I found the article 'Wonder plant' ( Down To Earth , Vol 5, No 24; May 15, 1997) very interesting. This article talks about the properties of the plant Senna and covers a very important issue for the development of wetlands profitability.

Please provide more details in the coming issues of Down To Earth , highlighting the experience of farmers, availability of basic needs and markets for the produce.

Our compliments to the author of the article....

Wholesome food

Apropos the editorial 'Back to the future' ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 1; May 31, 1997) in which you mentioned that the Government of India has banned benzene hexachloride in agriculture, it is unfortunate that alternatives for pest control like cow's urine and cow dung are not being used much in agriculture even though many farmers are using their own herbal remedies for pest control with good results.

There are several organic alternatives available and their efficacy has been proved through trial. In the article 'High-five' in an earlier issue of your magazine ( Down To Earth , Vol 5, No 9; September 30, 1996), there was a mention about panchgavya-3 having twin benefits: first, the modified form of panchgavya-3 ( mpg -3) -- which is a mixture of two parts ghee, five parts each of curd and milk, 40 of urine and 48 of dung, with two per cent of common salt and 0.01 per cent of baker's yeast -- was found to be the most effective and economical alternative to chemical pesticides. Second, mpg -3 was found to be effective in reducing the plant disease index, and increasing the yield and vigour of plants.

Similarly, one kg of cow dung mixed with 15 kg biomass and 15 kg soil from the field, makes good manure. This method has been tested by many agricultural colleges and has been found to be quite good. But the planning commission refuses to recognise and sponsor this, inspite of recommendations by the ministry of agriculture, probably because this is an indigenously developed technology and has not been propagated by any western country.

Moreover, it has been found that when organic agriculture is practised, attack by pests is minimum, as observed by many farmers and some organisations. Organic farming effectively eliminates pests, there is no pollution, it leaves no toxic residues in the soil or water, and the substances used are biodegradable. Organic farming not only improves soil structure but also uses considerably less water for irrigation. I have a small plot of land on which I practice organic farming and I have not observed a need to use any chemical pesticides.

Many farmers in different parts of the country are switching back to organic farming with considerably better earnings. Cancer patients and other sick people are now advised to take organically grown food, which means that such food is good for health as it has no toxic residues.

Another aspect of the use of chemical pesticides is that multinational companies introduce products which have been banned in countries of their origin, into our markets. The fact of the ban is probably carefully concealed.
Chemical weedicides used in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have given rise to a weed called Phalaris minor , which looks like wheat and even scientists find it difficult to distinguish between the two. Productivity in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh has also shown a serious declining trend despite the use of fertilisers and pesticides.

As such, there is an urgent need to stop giving subsidies for fertilisers and stop the use of poisonous pesticides, insecticides and weedicides and take up organic farming....

Nasty yeast

I would like to share some information with Down To Earth readers. An infection of the mouth and private parts called thrush, is caused by the fungus Candida albicans . A similar infection has been detected as an outcome of not washing one's hands after baking. The discovery resulted from the investigation of strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae , subsequent to isolated reports of its causing thrush.

Infection results because people do not realise that baker's yeast is a living organism since it comes in a powder or cake mix. The risk of infection could be eliminated by stricter hygiene....

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.