One hundred eggplant growers from two townships of Jessore District of Bangladesh were interviewed during July 2000 to February 2001 to generate baseline data on socio-economic parameters of pest control in eggplant production. Growers were interviewed again during June to December 2002 to study the possible impact of adoption of an IPM strategy for the control of a major pest, the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), Leucinodes orbonalis. Questionnaires were used to understand pest problems, management practices, patterns of input use, and economic returns associated with eggplant cultivation.
EFSB was identified as the key insect pest in the region. Ninety-eight percent of farmers relied solely on pesticide use to control this pest and 88% indicated that such pesticide use boosts yields. More than 60% of the farmers sprayed their eggplant crop 140 times or more in a season of 6–7 months. During the rainy season most farmers sprayed every day or on alternative days while in the winter the spraying frequency was reduced to once a week. Pesticide cost was the single highest cost of production, constituting 32% of the total cost.
Pesticide dealers were the major source of information to farmers on the selection of chemicals and application procedures. The farmers who were most likely to misuse pesticides were those who valued information from pesticide dealers, were members of a farmers' association, or visited with agricultural technicians. On the other hand, the farmers who were least likely to misuse pesticides were those who were more experienced in farming, better educated, or attended training in IPM. Ninety-eight percent of farmers felt sickness and more than 3% were hospitalized due to various complexities related to pesticide use.
This study reflects the irrational use of pesticide use in eggplant cultivation that has serious consequences to human health and the environment. After two years of research, an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy consisting of weekly excising of EFSB-damaged shoots, installation of pheromone lures to trap male EFSB moths, and withholding of chemical pesticides to allow local natural enemies to control EFSB, was developed. This strategy was implemented in two pilot project studies, one each in winter (January to June) and summer (June to December) on farmers' fields.
Farmers who adopted this IPM strategy used 22% and 13% less labor in winter and summer seasons, respectively, compared to non-IPM farmers, defined as farmers who relied solely on pesticides for insect pest control. Furthermore, the IPM strategies led to lower production costs and higher net incomes. Production costs per hectare for IPM farmers were only Tk 67,025 compared to Tk 97,783 for non- IPM farmers in winter crops, and Tk 85,053 for IPM farmers compared to Tk 128,274 for non-IPM farmers in summer crops (58.39 Tk = 1 USD). Net income per hectare was Tk 91,020 for IPM farmers compared to Tk 57,257 for non-IPM farmers in winter crops, and Tk 214,002 for IPM farmers compared to Tk 36,786 for non-IPM farmers in summer crops. Successful nationwide adoption of IPM in eggplant cultivation will increase profits, protect the environment, and improve public health.
Technical Bulletin TB29, AVRDC: The World Vegetable Center, Shanhua, Taiwan, ISBN 92-9058-127-1, 37 pp.