Does Endosulfan Have An Alternative?

In the six years since 2002 there has been a silent revolution taking place in the remote villages of Andhra Pradesh. Farmers who had suffered adverse effects from modern agricultural practices turned to a system called ‘Non Pesticidal Management’ (NPM). This has provided economic and social benefits, as well as an understanding of the effects of pesticides like endosulfan and monocrotophos, and knowledge of alternatives. This time it was not about substituting safer pesticides, but about employing safer sustainable methods that remove the need for pesticides altogether. And this is happening in 3,000 villages, over an area of 1.7 million acres. The farmers faced severe problems that compelled them to migrate or take their own lives. The chemical intensive farming demanded intensive resource use, at the same time diminishing the role of the farmers’ skills through the externalisation of knowledge and tools. Huge input costs for pesticides and chemical fertilizers made production capital intensive and, therefore, unaffordable for small and marginal farmers. Yet even so, pest infestations increased. Many farmers became indebted to pesticide dealers, seed vendors and money lenders. An acute water shortage coupled with continuous and diverse pest attacks literally took away the hope of recouping unprecedented losses. Loss of hope, money and health were expressed through suicides.


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