Insects aren’t the enemy, pesticides are!
Haryana, Mar 31: Every night, an incandescent bulb lights up the terrace room of a house in Lalitkhera village in Haryana. Insects from the adjoining pond swarm to this solitary bright spot under which Sheila Devi sits with a cup and saucer in her hand. She traps these insects one at a time to study their physical traits while other family members sleep.
An unlettered woman in her late 40s, Sheila can recognise around 200 farm insects as well as their nesting, dietary and reproductive traits. It was this knowledge that helped her brave the onslaught of the whitefly, an insect which wiped off cotton farms in north India last year. “We had a good harvest and also saved money on pesticides,” she says.
A non-violent approach
Sheila is member of a farmers’ group in Jind district of Haryana, which believes that pesticides do more harm than good. It is not just about environment pollution and health impacts either. Working under the banner of Dr Surender Dalal Keet Saksharta Pathshala, these 250 farmers are not proponents of organic or natural farming. In fact, they do use chemical fertilizers but when it comes to insects, they have a unique approach.