Agriculture Tribune
Monday, November 29, 1999

Neem — panacea for all maladies
By Jyotsna Dhingra
PLANTS have been an integral, unseparated and essential part the human civilisation almost since the time of its inception. They have contributed immensely towards its growth, sustenance and nurturing since times immemorial.

Punjab set to reap better cotton crop
By K.S. Chawla
THE lost cotton glory of Punjab is expected to be restored shortly, thanks to the development of the world’s first leaf curl virus resistant (LCVR) hybrid cotton variety by Punjab Agricultural University. The variety, LHH-144, has been released for cultivation in North India. The variety has been developed by Dr Lakhwinder Singh Randhawa, cotton breeder and his team of breeders.

How to prevent celphos poisoning
By V.K.Garg
THE use of celphos to control-stored grain pests is an old practice not only in big godowns but almost in every household. Chemically celphos is aluminium phosphide. Aluminium phosphide is available in the market by several other brand names also, like alphos, quickphos, phostoxin, phosphotex, etc.

  Dairying, poultry and bee-keeping




Neem — panacea for all maladies
By Jyotsna Dhingra

PLANTS have been an integral, unseparated and essential part the human civilisation almost since the time of its inception. They have contributed immensely towards its growth, sustenance and nurturing since times immemorial.

Neem is one such versatile plant which is a panacea for all maladies. Azadrichata Indica i.e. neem was well known in India for more than 2000 years. The Sanskrit name of neem tree is arishita, “reliever of sickness”, and for centuries the fruit, leaf, oil, bark and roots of the tree have been used in the ayurvedic and unani systems of treatment.

The neem tree normally thrives in an area with sub-arid to semi-humid conditions, with an annual rainfall between ca 400 and 1200 mm. It is famous for its drought resistance. It can grow in many different types of soil, but it seems to develop best on well drained, deep sandy soils. In India, it thrives on black cotton soils.

Neem is a fascinating tree. It may usher in a new era of pest control, provide millions with inexpensive medicines, cut down the rate of human population growth and, perhaps, even reduce erosion.

The use of synthetic pesticides during the past half a century has been reckless and indiscriminate, and has led to a number of problems. Some of these are contamination of food, soil ground water, rivers lakes, oceans, air, etc. With toxic residues. These toxic residues cause dearth of natural micro flora and fauna which leads to an overall imbalance in ecological balance of the environment.

Besides killing target insects, these pesticides have unfavourable side effects on non-target insects and other organisms. This also leads to an increase in the number of pest species resistant to pesticides and pest resurgence. In addition, mishandling of highly toxic synthetic products also leads to many lethal as well as non-lethal accidents. Therefore, awareness must be brought about with respect to the benefits involved in the use of more environment friendly products.

Nature is by far the most efficient ‘factory’ of many compounds. The plant kingdom is an abundant source of countless products which can partly be considered as weapons to defend plants against pests and diseases which have competed with them since times immemorial. Numerous plant ingredients are highly toxic to a wide spectrum of organisms. They exhibit highly sophisticated modes of action against pests such as insects which is the most important group of harmful organisms.

Some members of the genera azadirachta, to which neem belongs, have been observed to be outstandingly effective against insects, and their components are useful in many other respects. Simple extracts made from these plants have been used since long to protect stored food, etc. against pest infestation. For instance the dried leaves of neem tree are mixed with rice to reduce pest infestations. The seed kernal of the neem plant contains a complex compound azadirachtin which is a very promising plant ingredient for integrated pest management. This remarkable compound displays an array of effects on insects. It acts as a repellent, antifeedant, growth retardent, molt-inhibitor and sterilant. It disturb a number of vital physiological processes in insects so that their activities e.g. the ability to walk, jump, fly, copulate, etc. are strongly affected. Also, it is of special importance that intake of neem by man and other warm blooded animals does not cause any toxicity.

This medicinal plant had been used for its antiviral activities against both plant, human and animal viruses. These days commercial neem products against viruses are in circulation for example, “Wellgro”, a product of the ILTD, India, is used by farmers to control tobacco mosaic virus in West Godavari district and there are commercial products used in the control of vectors or as vector repellents, like ‘RD Repelin’, (ITC Ltd., Rajahmundary, India) which is a mixture of extracts of neem and a few other plants e.g. karanja, castor, mahua and sesame. A well-known practice in India is the use of neem cake not only as an amendment to agricultural soil to exploit fertiliser properties of this material but also for plant protection.

Neem has been shown to have a reduction effect on the incidence of rice viruses. It has been shown to inhibit transmission of viruses. Antifeedent effect of neem oil on brown rice plant hopper has also been observed. Neem can help overcome the spread of viruses through aphids as it kills aphids. Some viruses can be transmitted by beetles. Aqueous extract of neem seed cake cripples the mobility of these organisms, thereby leading to a control of spread of viruses by them. The nematicidal and nematode suppressing activity of neem can also affect vector populations and virus spread. Extracts of neem seed kernels have proved effective in reducing bacterial blight intensity of rice and thereby, increasing rice yield.

The use of neem oil helps in controlling plant diseases like cucurbit wilt because of its inhibitory action on activities of beetles. Phyllody or yellowing incidence of sesame could be reduced by using neem oil.

Neem cake suppressed the fungus rhizoctonia solani an important pathogen that causes damping of root and crown rots of many crops as well as fruit decay. Neem seed oil was also reported to be an effective fungicide. Post-harvest treatment of apple fruit with the neem oil protects against storage pathogens e.g. botrytis cinerea, penicillium expansum and glomerella cingulata. Powdery mildew appears to be sensitive to neem seed oil. A number of rust pathogens are controlled using foliar applications of neem seed oil. Wheat rust, bean rust, snapdragon rust and carnation rust have all been controlled by the use of foliar applications of neem seed oil prior to inoculation.

Mycelial growth of phytopathogenic fungi helminthosporium nodulosun attacking leaves of finger millet, has been inhibited by the use of neem oil. Black spot on rose, caused by diplocarpon rosae, is also sensitive to neem seed oil.

Direct incorporation of either fresh of dried heaves as a green manure results in the population decline of several soil borne pathogens. A significant reduction in wilt incidence was achieved in betel vine when dried neem leaves were added to the base of the vine. Application of the chopped neem leaves reduced the total fungal populations in tomato rhizosphere soil. Neem leaf extract inhibits a number of foliar pathogens.

Neem is used as a traditional drug in ayurveda medicines to treat numerous types of human diseases. The plant has been shown to possess anti-viral activity against hepatitis B virus. also, it inhibits small pox, fowl pox, varicella and chicken pox viruses. It has been shown to reduce virus titers of measles, vaccinia and chikungunya viruses. Neem extracts which have a potential to control mosquitoes, can be exploited to control the spread of many diseases caused by these blood-sucking insects.

In ayurveda, neem is firmly established for sterilising wounds against ulcers, plague, stomatitis, sores, eczema, leprosy and gonnorrhea.

An alcoholic extract from neem bark had a good antibiotic action against a human strain of M. tuberculosis. Septic elements of septic ulcers were eliminated by aqueous bark extract. The neem oil has antibiotic effectiveness for combating syphilis and other skin diseases.

These are only a few of the endless list of the qualities that the neem plant offers. Indeed neem is a nature’s wonder that has imbibed innumerable qualities in itself. Thought pioneering work on commercial exploitation of neem was done in India, the centre of research on neem has since shifted to other countries like the USA and Germany. In India several companies have entered into export market of the neem-based products.

Work on neem is being carried out in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. The scientists at the National Institute of Immunology have found neem to have a potent contraceptive property which holds a promising


Punjab set to reap better cotton crop
By K.S. Chawla

THE lost cotton glory of Punjab is expected to be restored shortly, thanks to the development of the world’s first leaf curl virus resistant (LCVR) hybrid cotton variety by Punjab Agricultural University. The variety, LHH-144, has been released for cultivation in North India. The variety has been developed by Dr Lakhwinder Singh Randhawa, cotton breeder and his team of breeders.

The cotton production has received a major setback in Punjab during the past five years due to the attack of leaf curl virus and heliothis which is locally known as “American sundi”. The cotton production in Punjab fell to the lowest of six lakh bales last year.

The LHH-144 hybrid has been rigorously evaluated for agronomic performance, insect pest and disease resistance by an inter-discipline team of pathologists, entomologists and agronomists, says Dr Randhawa.

According to Dr Randhawa, the varietal identification committee chaired by Dr Mangla Rai, DDG (crop sciences), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has recommended the cultivation of this variety in the entire cotton belt of North India.

LHH-144 has a bushy plant with okra type green leaves, three-four monopods, 20-25 sympods and the plant is about 150 cm tall, possesses big bolls 5.5 gm average boll weight as compared to 3-4 gm of earlier recommended varieties. In addition to leaf curl resistance, LHH-144 is also tolerant to jassid and bacterial blight. LHH-144 is a high-yielding hybrid and possesses superior fibre properties. The Central Institute of Research on Cotton Technology (CIRCOT), Matunga, Mumbai, has adjudged LHH-144 as a promising hybrid with superior fibre properties for textile processing. Its 2.5 per cent span length is 28.8. mm fibre strength above 23 gm/tex and micronaire value is around 4.4. This makes it suitable for spinning at 40 counts against 30 counts spun by the predominant variety, F-846, which is highly suspectible to the virus.

LHH-144 is suitable for cottonwheat rotation and it escapes damage due to cotton bollworm because of early pickable harvest.

Dr Randhawa says that efforts are on to bring new areas under cotton in the districts of Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Sangrur where potato is grown instead of sunflower.

Punjab, once known as the cotton basket of India — till 1990s, has undergone a sharp decline in the production and productivity for the past five years. The production of cotton decreased from 24 lakh bales to six lakh bales last year. The area under cotton also fell from 7.5 lakh hectares to about 5.5 lakh hectares.

According to Dr Randhawa, the major factor for change in the cotton production pattern was the change in the climatic conditions as the number of rainy days increased which caused relatively high humidity and waterlogging in the most productive cotton belt of Punjab. The rains in September also helped in the building up of insect-pests.

In 1994, the cotton leaf curl virus disease was noticed for the first time in the Rajasthan belt and by 1996-97, it assumed the proportion of a major disease, resulting in huge production losses ranging from 5 per cent to 90 per cent. The disease is caused by Gemini viruses and transmitted by the cotton white fly acting as a vector.

Further three main types of bollworm — pink, spotted and American — attack cotton in the state. The “American sundi” has become a major threat to the cotton crop during the past few years. To meet the demand for seed of the LHH-144 hybrid, the seed is being produced by various agencies, Punjab Agricultural University, the National Seed Oragnisations, including the NSC, the Punjab Seed Corporation and the Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Co, and a number of farmers.

Since the seed of LHH-144 has to be produced afresh every year and the cost of hybrid seed is more, the work on the production of male sterility based hybrids is at an advanced stage of development at the PAU.

On the varietal front the university has recommended LH-1556 which is tolerant to the CLCV and possesses superior fibre traits. The PAU has also identified short duration compact plant type lines which will give high seed cotton yield before the appearance of heliothesis which will be suitable for mechanical handling and are also resistant to leaf curl virus. The male parent of LHH-144, namely PIL-8 Mianh, has also shown tolerance to cotton leaf curl virus. PIL-8 Mianh, gives good seed cotton yield before appearance of heliothesis.

Punjab is set to reap a better cotton crop this year, thanks to good weather conditions. The total cotton production in the state is likely to be around 10 lakh bales against six lakh bales last year. September was free from rains and the crop was saved from the attack of “American sundi”.


How to prevent celphos poisoning
By V.K.Garg

THE use of celphos to control-stored grain pests is an old practice not only in big godowns but almost in every household. Chemically celphos is aluminium phosphide. Aluminium phosphide is available in the market by several other brand names also, like alphos, quickphos, phostoxin, phosphotex, etc. With the Green Revolution, the use of aluminium phosphide has increased manifold. Aluminium phosphide is available in the form of tablet and each tablet weighs about 3 gm. Each tablet contains 56 per cent aluminium phosphide and the rest is aluminium carbonate. When the tablet comes in contact with moisture it produces phosphine gas. The gas is highly toxic and effectively kills all the insects, vermins and rodents in a store or godown and so preserves the stored grains. Phosphine in its pure form is colourless and odourless but may smell like garlic or stale fish due to added impurities or chemical alterations. Half-life of phosphine is 5 to 24 hours. Phosphite and hypophosphite are the harmless residues of aluminium phosphide that remains in the grains after fumigation in less levels than WHO safe limits — 0.1pm.

Phosphine is rapidly absorbed by gastro-intestinal tract, particularly in the presence of hydrochloric acid in stomach by simple diffusion, and is also swiftly absorbed from the lungs through inhalations. The absorbed phosphine is oxidised to oxyacids and excreted in the urine as phosphite. A portion of phosphine exhaled as such through lungs also.

Now-a-days hospitals are receiving a large number of celphos poisoning cases, particularly in northern India where use of celphos is common. Before 1983-84 celphos poisoning cases were not known. However, its incidence has increased steeply during the last 15 years. Celphos poisoning has been observed from accidental or self-poisoning. The number of self-poisoning cases is much more than accidental cases. More that 2,000 cases have been admitted to Medical College Hospital, Rohtak, alone in past 10 years and a majority of the patients were from 15 to 35 years age group with rural background. The common factors which lead to self-poisoning were marital disharmony, failed or broken love affairs, economic hardship and minor quarrels with other members of the family.

Symptoms of Celphos Poisoning:

Celphos toxicity largely depends on the route of entry i.e whether or through inhalation of the phosphine gas and the period of exposure. When the gas is inhaled, symptoms appear very fast. Symptoms for inhalation include acute respiratory distress, dizziness, easy fatiguability, sense of constriction around the chest, vomiting, headache and diarrhoea. Severe toxicity may lead to ataxia, numbness, parasthetia, tremors, diplopia, jaundice, paresis and paralysis of muscles and acute respiratory distress syndrome, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, pulmonary oedemma, convulsion and coma. In some cases renal failure has also been reported due to accidental inhalation of the fumes of celphos.

Symptoms due to ingestion of tablets include muscular wasting and tenderness, specially in lower limbs, bleeding disorders due to wide spread capillary damage, acute respiratory failure, damage to respiratory failure and adreno-cortical deficiency.

Preventive Measures: In celphos poisoning overall mortality is 60 to 70 per cent. If three or more tablets are consumed the victim hardly survives. Death usually occurs very swiftly in most of the cases before even the victim is shifted to hospital for treatment. As yet a specific antidote has not been found for celphos so if the following measures are taken celphos mortality can be reduced significantly.

*Do not store celphos at home. Availability of such toxic compounds in peak moments of frustration may lead to self-poisoning.

*Avoid putting the celphos tablets in grains in front of toddlers because they like to imitate elders.

*People should be encouraged to use other natural grain preventive means like neem leaves, etc. To avoid or repel insects.

* A majority of the victims die on the way when brought from villages to city hospitals. To reduce the casualties all the public health centres in villages should be provided with preventive facilities.

*Scientists should make attempts to develop less toxic but equally effective alternative pesticides.

*The cage of the tablets should be such that one cannot break it easily to get the tablets.

*To avoid accidental poisoning, while working in godowns, where celphos is used never eat, drink and smoke.

*Also to avoid accidental inhalation, workers should cover their faces properly while working in godowns.

*The government should pass strict regulations regarding the supply of celphos. It should not be available over the counter to any individual. Recommendations should be made compulsory by some government official to get celphos and be followed strictly.

*On an average at the household level only two or three tablets of celphos are needed for stored foodgrain. But as these are available in packets of 10, people keep them in house for next year, which is dangerous. So if the manufacturing companies make the small packets of two or three tablets, there will be no extra tablets to keep at home for next

  Dairying, poultry and bee-keeping


— In order to avoid repeat breeding, the cows should be got inseminated during mid heat and buffaloes towards the end heat. Watch the animals in the early and late hours of the day for symptoms of heat. Vaginal discharge should be colourless and the animals should be got inseminated when the vaginal discharge attains thick consistency.

— The animals should be got examined for pregnancy after three months of insemination/mating.

— Make preparation to protect the young calves and animals (especially exotic and crossbred) from cold and wet weather.

— Vaccination against foot and mouth and gal ghotu diseases be done in young calves and adult animals.

— Disbudding should be done before one month of age.

— Under limited supply of green fodders, feed silage, give mineral mixture 50 g/day to the animals. Do not feed rice straw to animals.

— Watch carefully the infestation of ticks in calves and take adequate measures for its prevention and control.

— Deworm the calves with piperazine liquid ( 1 ml/4.5 kg body weight) regularly at 15 days interval.


— Cull out unproductive birds if your birds are 18 months of age or above.

— Prepare curtains, if needed, for coming winter for poultry sheds to avoid sudden downfall in temperature in the shed.

— Vaccinate the birds against Ranikhet disease and fowlpox, if not already done.

— If paddy straw is available, the same can be put on the roof to protect the birds from cold during winter.

— Keep poultry sheds clean, dry and warm.

— Do not store the feed beyond 15 days period.


Queen bee rearing can be undertaking on the toria crop for colonies’ multiplication or for old queen bees’ replacement during start of this month. The colonies should be otherwise maintained strong for exploiting toria honey flow to the maximum. Sulphur dusting should be done on top bars of the frames as per PAU recommendations in case mite infestation is noticed. Ripe (sealed) honey from toria flow should be extracted. In area where toria crop is not grown/available and eucalyptus is not in bloom yet, sugar feeding can be given to the colonies if food reserves are either scanty or not available in the colonies.


Sow recommended wheat variety in the first week of November in poplar plantations. Irrigate the plantations fortnightly. Control bark eating catterpillar by injecting suspension of 100 g Carbaryl 50 WP (Sevin) in 10 litres of water in one acre at feeding sites.

— Progressive Farming, PAUtop

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