Wednesday, January 18, 2023

India farmers groups complete training on-farm production of biocontrol agents and microbial bio pesticides

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) with its implementing partner Assam Agricultural University under the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART) organized a  three-day training program on “On-farm production of bio-control agents and microbial bio pesticides” at the National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM), Hyderabad from Jan 3 to 5, 2023. The program was attended by members of Farmer Producer Company (FPC) and representatives from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK). The program emphasized the importance of plant health and aimed to promote capacity building on bio-fertilizer and microbial agent production on-farm and pilot scale levels. 

Dr. J. Alice R. P. Sujeetha, Director for Plant Health Management at NIPHM highlighted the importance of plant health, biosecurity, pesticide management, and international and domestic market access for Assam farm producers. NIPHM representatives also introduced the trainers to various concepts of biological control, the microbial agents involved, and their mode of action against specific targets. The members were likewise trained on plant health decision making tools like agroecosystem analysis (AESA) and integrating ecological engineering as a part of agroecology management.

The sessions on natural enemies in the ecosystem, mass production of parasitoids and predators, importance of Trichogramma, Bracon wasps, Chrysoperla, anthocorid bug, reduviid bug, their predatory potential, and on-farm production techniques were demonstrated via hands-on training. Sessions on microbial biopesticides and their role in insect and disease management; Trichoderma spp. as biocontrol and plant growth promoting organism, and other biocontrol agent Pseudomonas fluorescens, and entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium and Lecanicillium lecanii and entomopathogenic nematodes and viruses in pest management, their low cost on-farm production, quality standards of bio agents were also discussed with the participants. The hands-on training sessions showcased the use of cereal-based inoculation medium, and the low cost inoculation chamber for incubating the cultures. On the aspect of biofertilizers and composting techniques, sessions on nitrogen fixing, phosphorus solubilizing and mobilizing organisms, potassium-releasing organisms were demonstrated from strain selection, low-cost medium preparation, low-cost inoculation and incubation, down to quality standards on-farm production of bio-fertilizers and compost were elaborated.  The FPC members remarked that the techniques were low cost and easy to adopt. 

As part of the program, the members were taken to the integrated farming system (IFS) model farm for small and marginal farmers at the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University. The model showed effective integration of agriculture with livestock, poultry and fishery components at the same land area which helps generate employment and added income all year round. The members were enthusiastic in relating the model with their own farming practices in Assam where fish, as a main component in the rice ecosystem, is promoted. 

Ultimately, the program emphasized the role of FPCs toward scaling these techniques as a sustainable production approach.


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