Doing farming as a business has led many to believe the misconception that for one to thrive in modern farming, one has to use chemical pesticides to survive a range of pests and related diseases.
Besides the expense, most specifications of these chemicals are hardly understood by many farmers, as most of them are illiterate, semi-literate or the language is complex and technical.
On top of that, there is a lot of adulteration of agro chemicals or presence of counterfeits on the markets, which makes the pesticides non responsive.
But going organic by relying on locally made natural pesticides can keep one in business without harming the environment and without incurring costs in expenditure on pesticides.
Harness the tree
Susan Eyo, a second-year student at Institute of Agriculture Business and Technology, says as students, they are changing that perception among farmers in Serere District. They are teaching or showing communities how to harness Neem tree into a natural pesticide or utilising cow dung as manure.
She explains that the Neem tree, which the locals mostly know for treating malaria, has many other uses. It has been proven to have Azadirachtin, which is found in its seeds. Bitter in taste, it provides a repelling aspect that kills pests that attack farm plants. “This is effective at killing pests like aphids, white flies, caterpillars, boll worms, fruit flies, beetles, among others,” says Eyo.
Harder for insects
Julius Yimosuk, also a student at the institute, adds that farmers who have taken their advice on this natural pesticides are enjoying their benefits.
“They no longer come here for advice, they can now also make their own pesticides with ease,” he says.
The pesticide formulated from the Neem leaves reduces feeding behaviour and interferes with hormone systems thus making it harder for insects to grow and lay eggs. The natural pesticide suits all plants, according to Yimosuk.
The application is after every two weeks, giving a farmer time to attend to other farm issues. He adds that after filtering, the mixture can be applied with the normal sprayers available to fasten the process for those with bigger farms.