Agriculture is the keystone of the Indian economy and the largest contributor to the country’s GDP. Over 58% of the rural households rely on agriculture as their primary means of livelihood. Ensuring food security for more than 1.3 billion population is an arduous task considering the diminishing cultivable land resource because of urbanization. Agricultural pest contribute to a great degree in agricultural loss. It has caused losses virtually on enumerable number of crops.
India may face an increase crop losses and growing insecurity as agricultural pests, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, insects and weeds are spreading. Pests belong to a broad spectrum of organism which causes annoyance, harm or damage to people, animals, crops or possessions. They harm the ecology by preying directly on native fauna, decreasing their number and the balance on ecology. Pests harm agriculture by feeding on crops or parasitizing livestock. Plants need to be protected from variety of different pests that presents threat to the crops.
Farm pest in India destroy about 15 – 25% of potential food production each year amounting to Rs 0.9-1.4 lakh crore. The threat posed to crop production by agricultural pest can threaten food security in India in the coming years. This loss happens despite the application of pest control. The causes of pest outbreaks and crop losses are due to different factors creating changes in the agricultural ecosystem. Outbreaks can impair fertilization rates or seed recovery. The use of pesticide destroys beneficial natural enemies, damage crops and alters physiology of crops making them susceptible to pest attack.
Pests attack a crop, that’s why farmers must be diligent in looking for solution. Some pests appear due to certain weather patterns, too much or too little rain can trigger pest outbreak. Sudden pest outbreak could ruin a whole season’s worth of planting and cultivation, leading to financial loss. The most direct economic impact of agricultural pest is the reduced efficiency of agricultural production may it be crops or animals, which reduces farmers’ income.
Pest threatening Indian agriculture requires vigilance. There are plenty of issues for farmers need to watch for in their fields because it will significantly affect the yield of their crop. The threat post by agricultural pest is not only ecological but social as well because Indian farmers are tied to traders by debt and dependent on traders for technical advice. Some farmers resorted to illegal activities like teak smuggling to pay their debts. Suicide through ingestion of insecticide becomes prevalent due to insecticide-induced depression over debts.
Many of the known pest control methods and technologies provide economic benefits when used in a satisfactory manner. Crop protection products such as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides are chemical method of pest control management. By their nature, crop protection can be toxic against the targets they are aimed at but sometimes have a negative impact on agriculture. Some people and ecological institutions are calling for the non-use of chemical pesticides because they present serious effect on public health.
Part of the vigilance in pest management in India is raising awareness of the vast range of pest that threaten agricultural crops. The use of low external inputs and traditional techniques by using non-chemical alternatives is widely advocated. The efforts are broadly classified as integrated pest management, low external input sustainable agriculture and organic agriculture. Other sustainable agricultural initiatives based on these principles proved to be successful. Among the three IPM is the most commonly recommended and widely adopted. These technology options could help create sustainable ways and decrease the needs for expensive and undesirable effects of chemical pesticides and promote greater production.