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White Grub Management

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Tackling the problem at its source // Addressing White Grub Infestation in Saurashtra

Saurashtra, in south-western Gujarat, is known as India’s groundnut granary – nearly 40 per cent of the country’s groundnut crop is produced here. Groundnut cultivation, therefore, is the predominant livelihood of communities in this region.

One of the biggest challenges facing groundnut farmers is pests attacking the crops – the White Grub being one of the most harmful. These grubs attack the roots of the groundnut plants, stunting their growth. Eventually, the plants die. When the monsoons begin, the dormant pupa emerges from the soil and feeds on the leaves of trees in the vicinity of the fields. Subsequent mating on the trees leads to an exploding population of larvae that damage the groundnut crops throughout its life cycle.

The challenge

The destruction begins at the roots. Typically, farmers try to address this situation by using chemical pesticides such as Chlorpyrifos, and bio inputs such as Metarizhium and Trichoderma. This adds approximately Rs700-1200 to their expenditure per acre. Unfortunately, since no treatment is fool proof, farmers typically lose 30-40 per cent of their produce and income to the infestation. “The lump sum expenditure on pesticide to control white grub infestation in its vegetative stage was more than the money we spend on the crop,” says Devatbhai Lakhabahi Vagh, in Barpatoli village. Pareshbhai Goudani, another groundnut farmer concurs: “The infestation was so rampant that farmers were highly demoralised to grow groundnuts.”

Pre-emptive measures

The Tata Trusts intervened to introduce pre-emptive measures in close collaboration with the local community. At the beginning of the monsoons, when the rainfall is less than 3 inches, the groundnut fields are marked for treatment. Trees bordering the fields – Neem, Acacia, Drumstick, etc., are sprayed with Imida Chloropid, a neonicotinoid. Tiny sponges dipped in Methoxy Benzene are hung on the branches to lure the beetles. When the beetles feed on the leaves of the treated trees, they die off within 2-3 days. Not only is there a significant reduction in the grub population, the farmers also save money because the groundnut crop does not require chemical treatment either. Managing the infestation at inception paved the way for the prevention of potential loss of yield by nearly 18 per cent.

The success of this intervention depends on timing – it must be executed at the onset of the monsoons preceding the sowing of the groundnut crop. Once that window is missed, then high pesticide usage remains the only solution to save the yield.

CSPC involved landowners who owned land in close vicinity to the groundnut fields in this intervention. Any untreated field would attract grubs which would lead to significant population explosion. The resultant social cohesion arising from mutual dependence, and a willingness to work together towards a mutually beneficent goal lays the foundation for the journey towards sustainable agriculture.

The initiative was widely captured by local media including the Doordarshan channel named DD Girnar.

Infographic

Particulars Villages Beneficiaries Acreage
Remark 22 373 1240

Dipping sponges with Methoxy Benzene

Spraying Imida Chloropid on trees bordering the fields

Dead beetles following the spray