Government working to introduce pesticide-free farming

The government was patronizing pesticide-free farming to address issues of mal-nutrition and poverty in the tribal areas of Koh-e-Suleman, according to Secretary Agriculture South Punjab Saqib Ateel. Speaking to the media, Ateel maintained that the area was new for agriculture and clear from previous use of pesticides.

Agriculture with organic inputs and practices compatible with organic pesticide-free farming can yield optimal results, he stated. The use of insecticides, pesticides and artificial fertilizers in Pakistan increased greatly during the past 3-4 decades. The damage caused by the indiscriminate usage of excessive pesticides and fertilizers is alarming, said Saqib.

Secretary Ateel regretted that the excessive use of pesticide-free farming and fertilizers not only leaves residues in the soil, water and air, but also has adverse effects on non-target organisms such as pollinators, parasitoids, predators and wild animals.

About organic farming in Koh-e-Suleman areas, Saqib observed that the government was providing technical and financial assistance. Nearly 4,000 acres were being cultivated with different crops, including wheat, sorghum, bajra, vegetables, date palms, citrus, olive orchards and others.

Saqib apprised that the department tried to restrict the use of chemicals on crops in the area through awareness sessions, held regularly with farmers in the area. Similarly, the extracts of plants such as neem, kortuma, aak, tobacco and others have been very effective in controlling insects.

Read Organic farming law on the cards

Regarding other measures, Secretary Ateel stated that organic plant protection technology packages were being developed.

The behavior of pests will also be studied, with regards to altitude, temperature and humidity. Economic analysis of vegetable plots treated with organic pesticides in the project area will be conducted, with the same crops treated with inorganic pesticides also analysed to establish a comparison. Under the project, farmers will be motivated to sow the maximum area within their plots. The organic orchards will not only sustain local people, but help earn maximum returns in the markets.

Ateel talked about a future plan to enhance the scope of organic farming. For pest control on vegetables plots and orchards, the use of beneficial insects will be continued in the area with the help of bio labs.

Similarly, the government will also help establishing organic produce marketing outlets to facilitate farmers and other citizens who wished to enjoy organic food.

This news was originally published by The Express Tribune.