According to a study released by ICAR, Indian Council for Agricultural Research the country is losing even more than the centre’s allocated budget for agriculture, 2017-18. A big amount of $11 billion has been lost to weeds, if considered ICAR study.
Rice is losing the most at $4.42 billion. After this, the economic losses are followed by wheat at $3.376 billion and then by soybean at $1.56 billion. However, the average yield loss is the lowest in rice – 14 per cent in transplanted rice and 21 per cent in direct-seeded condition.
The overall loss went up because of high rice production in India, said the study, which appeared online in the journal Crop Protection.
Groundnut cultivation was reported to have the greatest average loss, followed by maize and soybean. A groundnut farmer on an average lost 36 per cent of his crop to weeds, resulting in an estimated loss of $347 per hectare.
The average losses in maize and soybean farming were $136/ha and $117/ha, respectively. The average yield loss in wheat was $116 per ha.
The researchers, from the Jabalpur-based Directorate of Weed Research (DWR), estimated the economic losses using data generated by an all India co-ordinated research project on weed management, which carried out 1,580 on-farm research trials on 10 major crops at different locations in 18 States over a decade.
“We arrived at these numbers by statistically analyzing the data from this project in which 23 ICAR institutes were participating,” said RP Dubey, an agronomist with DWR and a co-author of the study.
The actual yield loss were calculated by multiplying the difference in yield in weed-free situations and crop yield reported by farmers with minimum support price in respective States.
Much greater loss than the current number will be estimated If more crops and locations are included, according to Dubey. The greater losses due to weeds could be good news for the herbicide industry.
Proper weed management could bring down these losses substantially and hence make these unwanted losses go down significantly.
Due to the dearth of judicious use of herbicides, farmers tend to spend a lot than they should which can cost farmers just one-third of what they spend on manual weeding.
A economic loss of $100 billion undergoes globally for which weeds are responsible for decreasing production of the eight most important food and cash crops by 13.6 per cent.