/ By Aya Ephrati, NoCamels /
Bio-Bee Biological Systems, an Israeli company that specializes in biologically-based integrated pest management has reported that it is launching operations in India. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method of contending with agricultural pests that aims to reduce the use of harsh chemical pesticides.
Bio-Bee implements this method by mass harvesting beneficial insects and mites that provide natural enemies for biological pest control or natural pollination.
The idea behind the system is to achieve a balance between the pest population and their natural enemies. If this balance is achieved, the spraying of pesticides can be reduced to a minimum and agricultural produce can safely be collected without fear of chemical residues. Bio-Bee claims the system is an effective and economical alternative to synthetic controls. IPM, they say, can reduce risks for the environment, growers and consumers of agricultural products.
The company’s two central “fighters” are bumblebees, used for pollinating both greenhouse vegetables and open field plantations and fruit flies to be used as part of the Sterile Insect Technique. This technique involves inundating the growing environment with, in Bio-Bee’s case, mass produced Mediterranean, male fruit flies that have been sterilized prior to release. Mating between the sterile males and fertile females yields no offspring and gradual long-term control of the pest is achieved.
Recent health scares concerning food, especially in the non-Western world where safety standards are less stringent, have created a unique need for such alternatives. India is one place where Bio-Bee sees a future for their product. Though at present most of the agricultural produce in India stays within the local market, in recent years intense efforts have been made to encourage agricultural exports. This is problematic for many Indian growers because exporting to places such as Western Europe, North America, or Japan requires them to meet extremely stringent standards of low chemical residues.
India is ripe for the picking
This is where Bio-Bee has decided to step in. The company’s operations in India will initially be concentrated in Maharashtra and Karnataka. There, the company employs a team of trained local agronomists that advises the region’s farmers and helps them implement the new technology. Israeli specialists also provide training, guidance and supervision on the ground.
Shachar Carmi, Bio-Bee’s marketing manager explains: “The decision to begin operations in India is based primarily on the receptiveness and willingness of growers in the country to adopt the most advanced technological solutions, and their increasing awareness of the many advantages of biologically based Integrated Pest Management.”
According to Carmi, Integrated Pest Management is used in 90 percent of capsicum (pepper plants) greenhouses and 80 percent of strawberry fields in Israel. He claims that Bio-Bee’s solutions have also proven successful in many other crops, such as tomatoes, cucumber and eggplants.
Bio-Bee has successfully passed trials in India for receiving import permits and is cooperating with India’s National Centre for Integrated Pest Management and the National Research Center for Grapes.