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Pesticides Killing Farm-friendly Insects In Punjab

Pesticides overkill in Punjab killing farm-friendly insects

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pesticide overkilling insects
Punjab state government is taking necessary steps to solve this issue. Pixabay

Amrik Singh, 46, a Bathinda-based farmer, was in despair after the entire cotton crop on his three-acre land was destroyed by whitefly in 2017. He then decided not to sow cotton anymore and switched to cultivate other crops, such as paddy.

Amrik wasn’t the only one. Hundreds of other farmers in Punjab bore the brunt of the pest attack. Earlier in 2015, the whitefly attack on cotton fields destroyed over 70 per cent of the standing cotton crop.

The increasing frequency of pest attacks on the state’s farmlands forced the state government to deliberate over the issue. Experts and agricultural scientists have now brought the focus on beneficial insects, whose population has substantially eroded over the past years owing to indiscriminate use of pesticides and chemicals by farmers in the state.

State Agriculture Department Joint Director Dr Sukhdev Singh said excessive use of chemicals on farmlands was also killing agriculture-friendly insects useful in controlling the population of pests.

pesticide overkilling
Excessive use of chemicals on farm lands was also killing agriculture-friendly insects. Pixabay

He attributed the rise of whitefly attacks to the decline in the population of such friendly insects. Whitefly sucks the sap from leaves, causing poor photosynthesis, and triggers leaf curl virus disease.

Alarmed by the situation, the state government formed a contingency plan under which farmers were advised to not use chemicals during the first 60 days of crop sowing.

B.D. Sharma, Assistant Plant Protection Officer at Jalandhar’s Central Integrated Pest Management Centre, said indiscriminate use of pesticides had depleted the population of friendly insects, including ladybugs, spiders and chrysoperla.

pesticide overkilling
Hundreds of other farmers in Punjab bore the brunt of the pest attack. Pixabay

“After sustained efforts, now the population of beneficial insects is improving in fields of Punjab,” he added.

The area under cotton cultivation in the state was 5.11 lakh hectares in 2009-10. It declined to 3.39 lakh hectares in 2015-16 and further to 2.57 lakh hectares in 2016-17, according to the state government. This was the time when whitefly attack on the crop sent alarm bells ringing among the farming community.

Many farmers in the state’s Malwa region, which is known for its cotton crop, have started growing paddy and Basmati owing to the threats posed by the pests. Amrik Singh said the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy and the low risk of pest attacks has aided his shift from cotton to paddy.

Long-term use of pesticides has also made an impact on the fertility of the soil in Punjab and also on the micro-organisms helpful in agriculture.

pesticides overkilling
State government formed a contingency plan under which farmers were advised to not use excessive chemicals. Pixabay

Also Read: Drinking Three or More Servings of Caffeinated Beverages a Day Increases Risk of Migraine

A study by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, noted: “Indiscriminate, long-term and over-application of pesticides have severe effects on soil ecology that may lead to alterations in or the erosion of beneficial or plant probiotic soil microflora. Weathered soils lose their ability to sustain enhanced production of crops/grains on the same land. However, burgeoning concern about environmental pollution and the sustainable use of cropping land have emphasised inculcation of awareness and the wider application of tools, techniques and products that do not pollute the environment at all or have only meagre ecological concerns.”

The PAU has been conducting seminars and lectures on the importance of beneficial insects in agriculture for farmers from far off areas of the state. Recently, the Department of Entomology in association with Indian Council of Agricultural Research held a seminar in which techniques of Integrated Pest Management —- an approach to sustainably manage insects —- were explained. (IANS)

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Google Announces New Prepaid Plans for YouTube Premium & Music

New Prepaid Plans Unveils for YouTube Premium and Music Premium in India

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Prepaid plans for YouTube Premium and Music Unveils
YouTube Music and YouTube Premium respectively offering premium and ad-free music streaming and content with their Prepaid plans. Pixabay

US-based search engine giant Google has announced new prepaid plans for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium for users in India.

YouTube launched YouTube Premium and YouTube Music in India last March and while at the time users could only subscribe to a monthly plan.

Now, users will be able to purchase one-month or three-month prepaid plans for YouTube Premium and Music Premium in India.

“With these new plans for India, users can now purchase prepaid plans without enrolling in an ongoing subscription and enhance their viewing and listening experience with all the paid membership benefits for the period that they pay for,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

New prepaid plans announced by google
Social media apps allow users to connect and interact. Pixabay

The new YouTube Music prepaid plans in India start from Rs 109 for a month and Rs 309 for a period of three months.

The YouTube Premium prepaid plan, on the other hand, is priced at Rs 139 for one month and Rs 399 for three months.

ALSO READ: Google CEO Sundar Pichai Bets Big on YouTube For Future Growth

YouTube Music Premium offers ad-free music, download any song for offline playback, listen to music in the background while accessing other apps and YouTube Premium offers all the benefits of YouTube Music Premium.

Google says that prepaid plans can be purchased with credit or debit card using Visa or Master-card and the YouTube Premium page reads “many forms of payment are accepted”.(IANS)