The natural ecosystem is a vast and complex world. There are many insects and organisms we don’t see because we’re not paying attention to them. We tend to only pay attention to the ones that damage our crops.
When our crops get damaged by pests, the easiest first reaction is to find a pesticide solution, organic or synthetic, that will get rid of the pests. But before you do that, we encourage you to take a step back and think like a plant.
Plants, just like humans and other living beings, have immune systems. When humans are weak and tired, we become more susceptible to viruses and illnesses because our immune systems are not strong enough to fight back. The same is true for plants. Plants that are healthy have immune systems that can set up defenses against pests. Pests usually only attack plants that are weak.
As a farmer, you have control over where you plant your vegetables and fruits. Plants grow healthy when they receive the correct amount of light, water, and nutrients, and are in the right climate. Your main priority as a farmer should be to give your plants all of these things.
If you are faced with a pest outbreak, ask yourself these questions.
- Is there too much or not enough sunlight?
- Is the soil too dry or too wet? Does it drain properly? Does it retain enough moisture?
- Does the soil have enough organic matter and nutrients for the plants to live off?
- Is the plant in the right climate?
- Are there any weak plants nearby that are attracting the pests?
Your answers to these questions will help you decide what needs to be improved. You may even come to a conclusion that the vegetables you’re currently growing are not suited to your farm’s environment. At Gazunmyo’s farm, we realised that Italian basil, rosemary, and thyme can only be grown in Yangon’s dry season from November to May. We’ve tried to grow them during the monsoon and they’ve all died from disease and pests (aphids) every year.
So find the right conditions for your plants. Help them build strong immune systems and you should see a reduction in pests on your farm.