Dealing with pests or diseases in orchards can be hard, with growers looking to pesticides to solve their problem. The new P.U.M.A project aims to inform Turkish growers about the alternatives to using pesticides, saving the route of using pesticides only as a final resort. And so, the P.U.M.A. truck drives around Turkey on a schedule with a final goal to minimize pesticide usage in Turkish agriculture.
Turkish fruit exporter Alanar has started a project that aims to educate growers on the use of pesticides. The company feels growers sometimes use pesticides when there are healthier and safer alternatives to get rid of their problems. With a mobile location in the form of a truck, the P.U.M.A. project travels via a scheduled route to meet growers close to their farms. P.U.M.A. stands for Pesticide Usage Minimizing Application, and according to Alanar’s Agricultural Engineer Salih Cali it’s been an effective way of getting their information across to the growers.
“Pests and diseases are a constant factor in fruit and vegetable cultivation. It was found that if we do nothing to counter these, about 65 per cent of the produced crops would be lost. And so, growers use pesticides to solve their problems. Turkey was already doing quite well in terms of active ingredients used in pesticides. However we, as Alanar, did feel pesticides are being used too easily, when other alternatives are available that are less damaging to people’s health and the environment.” Cali explains.
From traps to natural predators, repellants or even quarantining plants; there are multiple alternatives to pesticides when it comes to protecting your fields or orchards in the framework of IPM(Integrated Pest-Crop Management). The P.U.M.A. truck’s purpose is to inform the growers on what solution to use per problem, says Cali. “As Alanar we have prepared recommendations in the form of a list, containing how and when to use specific pesticides. On the list they can find the name of the pest or disease they are dealing with and how to counter the problem without the use of pesticides. Our goal is to minimize the use of pesticides and only use it as a last resort when everything else fails.”
The P.U.M.A. truck has a set route that can be found online. Growers can then sign up for the program and visit when the truck is closest to their location. “We have leaflets, demonstrations and experts explaining the methods to them. Alanar can potentially buy all these fruits, so we want to make sure it is of the best quality and the least amount of pesticides possible. The Truck started driving in March, although it’s currently come to a halt due to the coronavirus. Until we’re able to start back up again, we’re informing the growers digitally, or telling them to visit small trade points, where we have instructed the people to share our information without breaking the measures taken by the government. Normally we would use these trade points only during the period where we buy the fruits from the growers, but now they’re an excellent location to keep the spread of information flowing.”
Although the coronavirus has added an extra challenge for the P.U.M.A. project, it is by no means over. Alanar can’t wait to put their truck back on the road: “Once the truck is able to drive its route again, we expect the P.U.M.A project to continue until October. There are no costs for growers at all, but there is the advantage of protecting the planet by minimizing the usage of pesticides.” Cali concludes.