Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the Integrated Biological Control Laboratory at the National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM) Hyderabad, Telangana on Monday.
After inaugurating the lab, he emphasised that the use of biocontrol for pests is necessary to overcome the adverse effects of excessive pesticide use in different crops as well as to reduce the cost of cultivation and to increase farmers’ income. He underlined the need that the technologies developed in the laboratory should be taken to the farmers who have the least access to information so that they can be convinced about the benefits of these technologies. He emphasised that there should not be any pesticide residue in organically produced agricultural commodities which are being exported to foreign markets to keep up with the brand image of the country. He congratulated all the staff and officials of NIPHM on the new Integrated Biocontrol Laboratory building and expressed hope that they would rededicate themselves to the cause of taking the technology to the farmers.
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The new Integrated Bio Control Laboratory (BC Lab) is a state-of-the-art laboratory in NIPHM, that will impart hands-on experience on production methodologies for bio-pesticides, biocontrol agents like predators and parasitoids, entomopathogenic fungi, bio-fertilisers, NPV, pheromone and botanicals. The use of bio-control agents, bio-pesticides, and bio-fertilisers will help in reducing the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, consequently, reducing the adverse effects on the environment and human health and contributing to improved soil and plant health. The BC Lab will also have an insect museum, weed museum, exhibition hall, and natural farming cell among various other facilities to showcase the specimens of agriculturally important insects and weeds in the best preserved or live forms.
The new Integrated biological control laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, and the labs are staffed with highly qualified faculty members. NIPHM promotes sustainable agricultural practices such as Agro Ecosystem Analysis (AESA) and Ecological Engineering (EE) for pest management with enhanced use of different biological agents, bio-pesticides and bio-fertilisers. NIPHM is conducting regular training programmes on various aspects of insect pests and disease management in different crops. The training programmes are attended by officers working in different states, scientists and academicians from agricultural universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), ICAR institutes, students, farmers, DPPQ&S (Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine, and Storage) and private organisations.
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The inauguration of the biological control laboratory is a significant milestone in the development of chemical-free sustainable agriculture in India. The facility will help the extension functionaries to promote non-chemical options for pest management in agricultural and horticultural crops. The trained officers shall further train farmers in respective areas to adopt sustainable agricultural practices and promote the use of eco-friendly practices for pest management. This facility will also help in enhancing the knowledge and skills of agriculture officers, extension officers and farmers in the field of soil health management, organic farming and natural farming in the country.
At the occasion, Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW); Raghunandan Rao, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Telangana; Dr Pramod Kumar Meharda, Additional Secretary DA&FW; Dr Sagar Hanuman Singh, Director General of NIPHM; senior officers from Central and state government, ICAR institutes, trainee officers and students were also present.