“Biological Microbes”: New Environmentally-Friendly Pesticide for Sugarcane Farm Owners

Mr. Alongkorn Polabut, the advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives

Last year, upon the ban against 3 hazardous pesticides, namely Chlorpyrifos, Paraquat and Glyphosate, sugarcane farms in Thailand, besides those of rubber, cassava, corn, palm oil and other fruit trees, have been affected because their owners still needed to use the chemical substances. A much talked about question is what kind of another pesticide as effective as the already banned ones to be used. Currently, biological microbes are being introduced to serve as an environmentally-friendly pesticide for Thai farmers as they were proved effective. Also, its average production costs were equal to the three toxic substances already banned.

To help Thai farmers, Mr. Alongkorn Polabut, the advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, along with Mr. Worayuth Bunmee, the Director of the Division of Policy on Technology of Agriculture and Sustainable Agriculture, as well as public officials and representatives of private researchers who carried out a study on biological microbes at Maejo University, have recently checked a 600-Rai organic sugarcane farm.

Owned by Mr. Surin Khanthong in Nong Ma Kha Mong Village, Suphan Buri, the farm uses microbes as a major pesticide without any chemical substances. In addition, a group of private researchers informed Maejo University that biological microbes were really effective for all agricultural systems, even from soil maintenance which was once dependent on chemical substances.

There is some additional information, as well, that Japan, Germany, Indonesia and other countries in Europe are using biological microbes to solve problems on toxic pesticides and their government gave strong support. The experimental plant plot is totally chemically-free.

The study proved that it was really efficient while the cost for soil maintenance and use of complete microbes was not high. It only took one year to change chemically-contaminated soil to chemically-free one.

Mr. Surin said that, previously, he had used some chemical substances and had problems on rather high production cost. At the same time, he found a lot of weeds until he was introduced to alternative biological microbes. After using them for 7 years, the microbes could completely solve problems on weeds for the entire cycle. Moreover, the plant he grew became stronger and healthier, and the ecosystem returned good. He then continued to use the microbes as a major pesticide in his farm even though this technique is not well known as it is not officially certified. Unless public sectors gave it a formal approval, use of biological microbes would become an efficient alternative for Thai farmers.

Mr. Surin Khanthong, who used biological microbes to rid weeds of his organic sugarcane farm
Mr. Thapanarom Chamsai, the independent researcher

The independent researcher Mr. Thapanarom Chamsai, who worked in collaboration with Maejo University, added that he had written to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives Mr. Anan Suwannarat, asking for permission to discuss about using biological microbes to get rid of weeds according to the ministerial announcement on expansion of organic farms in Thailand and mobilization of the ban against the three above-mentioned toxic substances. He said that the biological microbes were effective and could serve as an excellent alternative for Thai farmers in terms of ridding their farm of weeds. In case of any doubts, he is willing to cooperate and work in every aspect since he was an advisor for organic farm owners in many countries and did not want Thai farmers to lose such invaluable opportunity.

Mr. Alongkorn Polabut, the advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, visited an organic sugarcane farm

Use of biological microbes to get rid of weeds has been carried out since 2004. It can replace hazardous toxic substances being banned at present. The microbes have been lately used in Don Klam sub-district, Sapphaya district in Chainat. As a result, to ensure Thai farmers and personnel of the agricultural sector for the effectiveness of biological microbes, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has to take it into consideration seriously.

On behalf of the researcher, Mr. Thapanarom informed that biological microbes could not be used together with any chemical substances as they are living things. Doing so will cause the microbes to die right away. In response to the concern that the microbes used to produce fertilizer and herbicide would mutate themselves and affect the ecosystem, he confirmed impossibility as the microbes are living things and cause no harm.

To prevent Thailand from losing any precious opportunity, mobilizing practical and official use of biological microbes is another effective way that helps not only sugarcane farm owners but also other farmers in the country. Since there is a research to prove that the microbes did not contaminate anything, if governmental sectors support them, problems on using chemical substances as a herbicide will be solved, hence a great assistance to local farmers in Thailand.