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Farmers' choice

india Updated: Aug 08, 2006 05:44 IST
Ashok Das
Ashok Das
Highlight Story

Now drink to the ingenuity of Telangana's farmers. First they sprayed soft drinks - in place of pesticides - on cotton crops. They are moving on to hard drinks.

In some villages in Adilabad and Karimnagar districts, farmers are experimenting with cheap liquor on crops. And the results are encouraging, they say with all the seriousness of scientists in lab coats.

The farmers turned to the bottle when the use of spurious pesticides led to crop failure. Liquor treatment is cost-effective too. A litre of cheap booze costs a little over Rs 100 and is enough to spray on

two acres. Pesticides for the same area will cost the farmers Rs 3,000-4,000 .

“I did not think it would work but the liquor killed bugs and pests,” says Jagan, a farmer at Ilegaon village in Adilabad, who has been using spirits on his cotton field for the past two seasons. Says Bhumesh, a farmer: “For consecutive years, we lost crops because we used spurious insecticide bought at exorbitant rates. Neither the government nor the companies came to our help. Now we’re doing some experiments on our own.”

The farmers say spraying liquor — instead of pesticides — is doubly beneficial: they do not get poisoned while spraying and the soil does not get contaminated. But sceptics wonder if the “organic treatment” of cocktails is good for the crop.

Wine-shop owners are not complaining. “The sales of cheap liquor have more than doubled,” says the owner of a liquor shop at Ilegaon.

Agriculture officers in the two districts, however, dismiss liquor-treatment as a short-lived craze. But if the farmers get hooked on to the bottle, then the pesticide dealers will end up with a headache.