An Indian village says 'no' to pesticides
Posted: 29 Sep 2004
by Kavitha Kuruganti
In 2003, a small village in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, declared itself pesticide-free. Since then, its farmers have stopped using pesticides for crops like cotton, Bengal gram, chilli and paddy - all known to use notoriously high quantities of pesticides. Kavitha Kuruganti reports on the greening of this village.
The pesticide-free status of Punukula, a predominantly tribal village, is creating ripples in Andhra Pradesh (AP) which, in the past five years, has had frequent spells of drought and reported thousands of farmer suicides. An estimated 1,200 suicides were reported in the period June-August 2004. One of the reasons for the rise in suicides has been the crushing burden of debt: many farmers buy expensive seeds and pesticides and when the crops fail, their own survival becomes difficult.
But Punukula farmers of the Khammam district claim that they are able to save up to Rs 3 million (1US$=Rs 46) every year on agricultural inputs by adopting eco-friendly methods towards pest management. There is a total of 600 acres of farmland and, on every acre, they have made a saving of at least Rs 5,000 since reducing their dependence on expensive pesticides