Farmers in the Narmadapuram district of Madhya Pradesh are using a mixture of water and alcohol as a pesticide for their crops. They usually spray 100 ml of field liquor mixed with 15 litres of water on their fields after planting.
While some farmers claim that it helps increase crop yields and is cost-effective compared to chemical fertilizers, agricultural scientists have a different opinion. They claim that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that alcohol improves the quality of crops.
Despite the disagreement, farmers have expanded the area of moong cultivation in the state due to perceived benefits. Madhya Pradesh is a major producer of moong crops.
Premshankar Patel from Nayakheda village is one such farmer who believes in the benefits of this approach. He mixes a small amount of liquor with water and sprinkles it on his crops, resulting in healthy and bountiful crops.
Patel explained: "Using this method, the crops grow well and produce good yields. The cost of spraying pesticide on moong is 100-150 rupees per acre, while country liquor costs 10-12 rupees per acre… Some pesticides should be sprayed on the caterpillars. Spraying is done 40 days after planting harvest," Patel said.
In the 2022-23 season, the state government had set itself a target of purchasing 2,75,645 metric tons of moong but ultimately procured 3.5 lakh metric tons. Farmers have been encouraged by the perceived benefits of this approach, leading to the expansion of growing areas.
Dr SB Agarwal, Senior Scientist at Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, said, "There is no scientific research or study to show that alcohol can improve the quality of moong."
Despite a lack of scientific support, the practice has led to an increase in moong cultivation in Madhya Pradesh. This year, about 10.79 lakh hectares of land are devoted to moong cultivation, compared to 9.29 lakh hectares the previous year. Madhya Pradesh is a major producer of this crop.
Deputy Director debunks liquor spraying
According to JR Hedau, deputy director of agriculture in Narmadapuram, the act of spraying the country's liquor on moong crops has no impact on their production. He mentioned that farmers have been conducting this experiment based on word of mouth among themselves.
Currently, the crops are reaching the flowering stage, and before that, the farmers have been nourishing the moong plants by adding liquor of the country to the irrigation pump. Hedau clarified that he does not have information on the damage to crops caused by weather conditions, since that is the responsibility of the Revenue Department.
Furthermore, he stated that the idea of spraying alcohol is purely a rumour. He has not received any official reports suggesting that alcohol spraying improves crop yields. Conversely, some farmers argue that this practice effectively kills caterpillars and other pests, leading to higher yields in moong crops.
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