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Agri Scientist Rediscovers Ancient Indian Pesticide That Improves Soil Fertility

Late Dr Y L Nene, a renowned agricultural scientist and the founder of the Asian Agri-History Foundation (AAHF), rediscovered the ingredients of the 'natural pesticide' Herbal Kunapajala, which continues to benefit farmers today.

Chintu Das
Renowned agricultural scientist, the founder of the AAHF, Late Dr Y L Nene rediscovered the ingredients to ‘natural pesticide’, Herbal Kunapajala
Renowned agricultural scientist, the founder of the AAHF, Late Dr Y L Nene rediscovered the ingredients to ‘natural pesticide’, Herbal Kunapajala

Described in an ancient book Vrikshayurveda by Surpala in Bundelkhand about thousands of years ago as a 'natural pesticide' prepared from fish & animal waste, Kunapajala is a magical organic fertilizer. It is said to improve soil fertility, reduce pests that resist chemical fertilisers, and erase pesticide residue in just a few years.

Dr. Y L Nene, a renowned agricultural scientist and the founder and chairman of the Asian Agri-History Foundation (AAHF), was the driving force behind it. In 1996, he secured a copy of the Vrikshayurveda manuscript from Oxford University's Bodleian Library and had it translated from Sanskrit to English and was printed by AAHF.

Dr Sunita T Pandey, Professor of Agronomy and Executive Secretary of AAHF, College of Agriculture GBPUA&T, Pantnagar, says, "We find the reference for Kunapajala from 400 BC to 1725 AD in literature being practised by farmers and taught in Gurukuls." "Some farmers still use the same formula today, but some are hesitant to utilise animal remains," she says.

So, utilising cow dung and cow urine as well as the other substances used by Surpala, Late Dr Nene created a vegetarian version of the original concoction. In 2012, he created a new version, Herbal Kunapajala, with a herbal foundation for the fertiliser.

It continues the same procedure, swapping animal remains with vegetation with a different composition but the same idea. The fermentation process breaks down complex proteins and fats into simpler pieces, allowing plants to better absorb nutrients and grow healthier and more resilient.

Cow dung and urine, jaggery, germinated whole black gram, mustard or neem oil cake, rice husk water, finely chopped field weeds, and water in specified quantities are the key constituents of Herbal Kunapajala. Herbal Kunapajala is available in 15 days in the summer and 30-45 days in the winter.

This versatile, completely fermented bioformulation promotes healthy plant development, boosts yields, and protects plants from biotic stressors (diseases and insect/pest infestations). It's a nutrient, water, disease, and soil health management system that's also environmentally friendly.

Farmers have had great success drenching and spraying Herbal Kunapajala on their crops and plants. It has enhanced soil quality while increasing yields and providing natural insect control.

Vijay Parmar, Darjeeling and Dooars Senior Tea Advisor, has been educating tea farmers about this practice, and two-thirds of Darjeeling and Dooars tea plantations in Northern West Bengal have been converted to organic tea cultivation using Kunapajala and other Vrikshayurvedic preparations.

About 25 farmers in Uttarakhand use Kunapajala for various crops. Hundreds of small farmers in Kerala practice Vrikshayurvedic agriculture. Around 100 farmers use Kunapajala in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

Higher Yields And More Nutritious Crops

Small and marginal farmers may produce their crops naturally without the need of extra organic manures or bio-pesticides by utilising simply Herbal Kunapajala. Its application is already benefiting farmers in MP, Kerala, and Uttarakhand.

Small farmers have been able to lower their cost of cultivation and assure good productivity while considerably increasing their net income in diverse crops ranging from 25 to 500 percent, according to Dr SPS Beniwal, Chairman of AAHF. He uses rice, vegetables, and fruit harvests as examples. Farmers saw a five-fold rise in fruit output in peach plants and a ten-fold increase in yield in a 10-year-old kiwi plant.

Since 2008, AAHF has promoted the use of Herbal Kunapajala among tea producers in Darjeeling, West Bengal, and marginal farmers in Uttarakhand and western Uttar Pradesh since 2019, in conjunction with GBPUA&T, through demonstrations on how to make it. According to Dr. Beniwal, they also launched WhatsApp groups for farmers, a Vrikshayurveda periodical, seminars, and organised field visits.

He continues, "This great product also happens to be the world's first bio-fertilizer and ought to be marketed."

Recipe: Ingredients And Procedure To Make It:

Cow Dung - 15 to 20 Kilos

Cow Urine - 15 to 20 Liters

Spoiled Jaggery -  2 Kilos

Sprouted Urad- 2 Kilos

Neem Or Mustard Cake -  2 Kilos

Local Farm Weeds - 20 Kilos

Water - 10-20 lts

Preparation Process:

  • Mix cow dung and urine in a 200-litre plastic barrel with a cover.

  • Mix together mustard/neem cake, sprouted urad, and crushed jaggery.

  • 10-20 litres of water, mixed thoroughly with a wooden stick

  • Crushed farm weeds, medicinal plants, and neem leaves are added.

  • Add finely chopped leaves and fine twigs of Aak (Madar/Calotropis gigantea), Castor bean, and Jamun (Black plum) plants to avoid fungal diseases.

  • Boil paddy husk in water for 15-20 minutes in a big container, then cool for two days before putting it in the drum.

  • Add 1-1 litres of milk or 5-7 days old whey (buttermilk).

  • A total of 150 litres of water should be in the drum. Close the cover tightly on the drum. In the summer, mix the contents in the morning and evening for about 15 days, and in the winter, for 30-45 days. The mixture is ready when the bubbles stop forming. Use it after filtering it with a towel. If it is to be used as sprays, it must be filtered twice through a cloth.

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