Time for Flower Power

Published on: 03:54AM Oct 19, 2009

Inter-cropping is a time-honored but poorly appreciated way of keeping difficult pests under control. Mono-cropping is a steep downside of big-budget promotions of branded and extravagantly-priced seeds. It can build in to a kind of vicious cycle with genetic engineering following the introduction of pest-vulnerable hybrids. It is time for all farmers to pause and reflect on how they can stall the bludeoning dependance on corporate input suppliers armed with budget-busting patents.

The list of flowering plants with pesticidal properties is long. You can have them for free so it does not pay for agri-industries to draw farmer attention in this direction. Indeed, all profits from synthetic pyrethroids are truly floral by origin. Tobacco, garlic, ginger, coriander, and most other spices, are known by veteran farmers to be adept at keeping pests away. Chemical Alis of the agricultural sector will scoff at such an IPM practice, but it can be remarkably effective nonetheless.

Flowers for inter-culture seem to be best way forward. They look good, attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, have significant market values, and have fragrance-powers to keep pests confused and far away from valuable crops. Floriculture is popular but more as a specialized cropping pattern rather than in-between rows of vegetables and field crops. Farmers tired of spraying systemic insecticides to keep virus-vectors away should try this colorful option.