a team of scientists from Nagpur-based Central Institute for Cotton Research (cicr) has developed a kit to help choose the right insecticide to control the American bollworm (Helicovarpa armigera). Resistant to most pesticides, the bug poses a big challenge to cotton cultivators not only in India but worldwide.
The pest's resistance to insecticides owes to their indiscriminate and excessive use. In a study published in 2001 (Journal of Economic Entomology, Vol 94, No 1), Keshav Raj Kranthi, the head of the team, had found various strains of the pest were resistant to pesticides such as pyrethroid, deltamethrin, cypermethrin, fenvalerate and cyhalothrin. Pyrethroid resistance was high in strains collected from the districts in Andhra Pradesh where a majority of the cotton farmer suicide cases occurred. "Many farmers use unnecessary pesticides and their cocktails, spending huge money. With our kit, they can discard the ineffective ones,' says Kranthi.
Of the total pesticides used for cotton crops in India, about 85 per cent is used only in 28 districts in the main cotton-growing regions.
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