Chilli growers in Andhra Pradesh will likely bring more area under the cultivation of the spices crop next season (October 2022-September 2023) despite a new pest, black thrips, wreaking their crop last season.
To help the growers, agri-chemical firms, Indian and foreign, have come up with at least half a dozen solutions for the protection of the crop. Farmers are eager to cultivate chilli in view of record prices witnessed this season, when over 75 per cent of the production has been affected by the pest attack.
Currently, chilli prices are nearly double of last year’s rates. For example, the modal price (the rate at which most trades take place) of Teja variety chilli in Khammam agriculture produce marketing committee (APMC) yard is ₹17,000 a quintal with the maximum being ₹21,200. Last year, the variety ruled at ₹10,800 at the same time.
Similarly, the modal price of the Wonder Hot variety at Warangal APMC is ₹32,000 with the maximum topping ₹35,000.
Farmers’ plan to go for a higher area under chilli is seen as an opportunity by companies dealing with crop solutions. Some of them are ready with their new launches to tackle the pest problem.
Insecticides (India), a leading crop protection solutions company, has tied up with Japanese company Nissan Chemical Corporation, to introduce Shinwa. The company claims the insecticide can control lepidopteran pests and Thrips in a variety of crops. It said the product has a quick knockdown effect, with a longer duration of control.
Switzerland-based agricultural science major Syngenta says it has developed a solution Plinazolim—chemically known as Isocycloseram—to tackle black thrips in chilli. The company has sought clearance for the solution from the Central Insecticide Board (CIB). “Syngenta’s new molecule is providing good results in controlling black thrips in chillies. We have tested this molecule at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bengaluru, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Dr YSR Horticultural University, Andhra, and Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth Rahuri, Maharashtra. We have also submitted complete data in March 2021 seeking quick clearance,” said Sunil Kurchania, Head, Crop Protection Development, Syngenta India.
AgFarm, another agrochemical company, has come up with four products (Hardy, Longstar, Lambrin Pro and Libas) targetted at thrips.
AgFarm and Insecticides feel they need not take CIB clearance as their solutions had already been in use for controlling other pests.
Jitta Bal Reddy, a farmer working on alternative crop protection solutions, claimed that homoeopathic solutions proved to be handy to address the menacing pest. “We prescribed Aranea diadema and thuja to farmers. They have seen good results,” said Reddy, who runs Ameya Krishi Vignana Kendram’.
In view of last year’s devastating attack of thrips on chilli, scientists at the Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) have asked farmers not to use fertilisers and pesticides excessively. “We have asked them not to heed to the ill-informed advice of the local input dealers. We told them to use a cocktail of pesticides to protect the crop from the highly infectious thrips,” Jagadeeswar, Director of Research at PJTSAU, told Business Line.
With the pest spreading widely last year and damaging over 90 per cent of the crop in Telangana, a team comprising scientists from PJTSAU and IIHR visited the chilli-growing areas in Warangal and Khammam.
The team advised the farmers to go for blue sticky traps to attract and kill the pest. Urging growers to raise two-three rows of jowar or maize around the chilli crop, the scientists suggested spraying of neem oil mixed with a few chemicals to protect the crop.
( With inputs from Subramani Ra Mancombu, Chennai)