Sustainable insect pest management in Indian cotton uri icon


  • Throughout the cotton-growing areas of India, intensified production, increased use ofirrigation and the excessive use of pesticides have led to the major cotton pests evolvingresistance to the chemicals used against them: for example, resistance to commonpyrethroids used in bollworm control can reach close to 100% by the end of the cottonseason in heavily sprayed areas. This resistance encourages the application of more andstronger insecticides, leading to a classic 'pesticide treadmill'. Two related projects, focusingon southern India (R6734) and the irrigated cotton-growing systems of the Punjab(R6760*) have developed and tested integrated pest management (lPM) packages of methodsthat reduce the need for insecticides. Using the recommended IPM methods, farmersencourage the build-up of the bollworm's natural predators, and target limited sprays ofrecommended insecticides on the pest only when absolutely necessary. The results havebeen dramatic. Reduced costs of production and increased yields of cotton resulted inmassively increased incomes to farmers. In the last (1998/99) season, farmers using theIPM package in southern India achieved average profits of ¬£176 per ha, compared with¬£38 per ha for other farmers. Farmers' strong enthusiasm generated by these resultsattracted widespread coverage by local news media, and this in turn has fuelled strongdemands for expansion into other districts. Use of the recommended IPM package hasalready reduced hazards to the environment and human health, and improved the profitabilityand reliability of cotton harvests for hundreds of poor rural families dependent onthe cotton crop. The future widespread adoption of these methods now seems assured,and will have a major and sustainable impact on improving the livelihoods of small-scalefarmers, on human welfare and on the environment

publication date

  • 2001