Sunday, December 31, 2006

In name of Almighty, it’s time for charity

Published in Deccan Chronicle/Asian Age on Sunday, 31 Dec 2006:
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Bakrid or Id-ul-Adha is not just a festival of ritual
sacrifice. It is a festival of charity too.
Like the other grand Muslim festival of alms giving or Id-ul-Fitr, Bakrid
brings cheers to millions of poor people living across the globe and pours
in charity enough for several orphanages and madrasas to fend themselves
for a few months.
The tradition of sacrifice dates back to the grand prophet, Hazrat Ibrahim
(peace be upon him), known to Jews and Christians as Abraham. The meat of
sacrificial animals is divided into three parts. One part is distributed
among friends and relatives, the second part is meant for the poor and
needy and the third portion is for self consumption.
It has been a tradition among Muslims right from the times of the Holy
Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) to
donate the skin of the sacrificial animal. The skin or the proceeds from
its sale is to be donated to orphanages, madrasas or charitable
Estimates show that over five million animal skins are distributed during
the Bakrid in India alone. The largest donation in the form of skin comes
from Mumbai, followed by Hyderabad by virtue of their large Muslim
In Andhra Pradesh, skins worth Rs 30 crore are donated among charitable
institutions. If valued the meat portion distributed among the poor and
needy runs into Rs 400 crores. This figure for the whole of India means a
few thousand crores. According to Muhammad Saleem, former Andhra Pradesh
Wakf board chairman and vice-president of the All-India Jamiat-ul-Quraish,
about 20 lakh sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed on Bakrid and the
subsequent two days.
"The idea behind celebrating Islamic festivals is not just to rejoice but
to remember the pangs and troubles of the havenots. God Almighty has given
so much to us and it is our duty to remember the unfortunate ones at least
on the Id days. Besides the skin of animals, one-third of the meat is also
distributed among the poor. Mosques are not qualified to receive donation
of skins or the sale proceeds from them. Festivals are for people and the
poor have a greater right over the charity," observes Moulana Hafiz Syed
Shujath Hussain.
Besides individual sacrifices of animals, sacrifice is also
institutionalised in Hyderabad and other parts of the country. Several
charitable and Zakat organisations have been collecting the cost of the
animal for sacrifice from those who cannot do the same on their own. The
facility is being largely utilised by non-resident Indian Muslims,
particularly those living in the West.
The Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust is collecting Rs 2,400 per sheep
for sacrifice on Bakrid.
There is also a provision for distribution of the entire meat among the
poor, in case the person is an NRI.
Moulana Shaik Najeeb Ahmad says the sacrifice of animals on the Bakrid is
more than just a ritual. The Almighty tests the person sacrificing the
animal whether it is being done with pure intentions or as a show or pomp.
"The Almighty makes it clear in the Holy Quran that neither the blood nor
the flesh of sacrificial animals reach Him. It is the piety and pure
intentions and the spirit behind the sacrifice that counts with the
Almighty," he says.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Kolleru back to its prestine glory

December 27,2006
Environment: Looking Back at 2006
By Syed Akbar
The year 2006 will go down the history as the "year of environment" as far as Andhra Pradesh is concerned. The State witnessed the biggest-ever environment restoration operation in the country in the form of removal of age-old encroachments from Kolleru, Asia's largest fresh water lake.
The YSR government took up the "Operation Kolleru Clean up", a daunting ecological task which no other government in the past dared to even think it of. Most of those who encroached upon the lake and converted it into small fish ponds are influential persons with political affiliations. Leaders belonging to the ruling Congress, main Opposition Telugu Desam and other political parties including the BJP had been enjoying the rights over the lake, albeit illegally. Dislodging them was nothing short of stirring the hornet's nest.
But with the intervention of Supreme Court, the State government mustered enough courage to throw away the encroachers and restore the lake to its original pristine glory. The result are for everyone to see: No floods in Khammam, Krishna and West Godavari districts this rainy season and migratory birds from Siberia have flocked the lake for the first time in two decades this winter.
The State government completed such a massive restoration work in a record six months time after it launched it in January. Kolleru, spread over 900 sq km between Krishna and Godavari districts, is the largest fresh water body in Asia. The only other lake that matches Kolleru in the continent in terms of its grandeur and beauty is Chilka lake, but then Chilka is a brackish water body and not a fresh water one.
With the Kolleru lake being restored, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy has recommended West Godavari district collector Luv Agarwal for Padmasri award. The district collector restored the lake unmindful of the strong protests from farmers and politicians.
Thousands of acres of rich agricultural land in Krishna and Godavari deltas used to be submerged every rainy season causing heavy damage to standing crops. Kolleru is a natural lake which is fed by as many as a dozen streams and channels and is emptied by a channel, Upputeru, into the Bay of Bengal. As the fish ponds had been obstructing the flows into and out of the lake, thousands of acres of land and hundreds of residential areas used to get submerged after every heavy downpour.
For the first time in three decades there were no floods in the catchment area
of the lake. Kolleru is bird sanctuary and a protected forest area and yet the
government could not remove the encroachments all these years. The lake attracts more than 185 bird species and new species continue to be discovered. The lake also boasts of four rare bird species and 12 endangered ones. Kolleru is a protected area for pelicans and some come from as far away as Siberia.
Since the lake has 10 contours, some parts of the lake dry up during summer.
The erstwhile British government granted pattas to local people to cultivate
paddy during summer. The State government introduced co-operative farming in 1954. This led to gradual encroachment of the lake and by 1969 almost the entire lake had been encroached. As much as 21 lakh acres of the lake bed had been encroached up by paddy fields which were later converted into fish ponds upsetting the delicate ecological balance.
The economic boom led to construction of pucca roads and bridges obstructing the free flow of water.
Pressure on the lake led to proliferation of weeds leading to reduction in the
catchment area. A major ecological problem called, eutrophication, resulted in the lake. Fish production came down drastically.
The water spread in Kolleru varies from 135 sq km at plus 3 mean sea level to 901 sq km at plus 10 msl.
According to a report prepared by the Andhra Pradesh State Pollution Control Board, about a dozen major industries release 7.2 million litres of effluents into the lake daily. Moreover 17,000 tonnes of fertilisers are also emptied into the water body.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

World AIDS Day – AIDS emerges as the leading cause of death

(December 1, 2006)
By Syed Akbar
As the world observes the AIDS Day on December 1, the World Health Organisation
projects AIDS as the leading cause of death, followed by depression, heart diseases
and road accidents.
The WHO’s updated ‘burden of disease’ projections released this month gain
significance in the backdrop of India emerging as one of the few countries with
projected large population suffering from AIDS/HIV infection. India at present has
3.5 million people afflicted with the disease and the number is fast increasing.
Andhra Pradesh leads the States in the country.
The WHO’s projections also assume importance as India accounts for 16 per cent of
the world’s population and 21 per cent f the world’s global burden of disease,
including AIDS. The WHO’s projection is for the year 2030 and its statistics are
based on the 2002 figures.
The WHO revised this November its projection on global burden of diseases giving
AIDS the status of the Killer No. 1. With fast paced life, depression, particularly
of the unipolar (single mood) variety has emerged as the second leading cause of
death. Depression includes trouble sleeping, loss of weight and agitated and
irritable behaviour. One of the characteristic features of unipolar depression is
that people who suffer from it put on a "happy face" in front of others, while deep
down they feel quite depressed and disinterested in life.
Cardiac diseases particularly of the ischaemic type and road accidents occupy the
third and the fourth slot in the updated projections of global mortality and burden
of diseases, 2002-2030 released by the WHO a few days ago.
According to the WHO report, global HIV/AIDS deaths may rise from 2.8 million in
2002 to 6.5 million in 2030 if the anti-retroviral drugs reach 80 per cent of people
by 2012. In the most optimistic scenario with increased prevention activity,
HIV/AIDS deaths may drop to 3.7 million by the projected year.
Another disturbing factor is the emergence of tobacco-related deaths. The WHO
projects total tobacco-attributable deaths to 6.4 million in 2015 and 8.3 million in
2030 from the present 5.4 million. Tobacco is projected to kill 50 per cent more
people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS, and to be responsible for 10 per cent of all deaths
Eminent sexologist Dr K Swayam Prakash says that the regulatory mechanism has to be
strengthened to a great extent to detect and stop malpractices in blood banking.
“Greater coordination between national/ state blood transfusion councils and drug
control authorities is needed. Training and orientation of drug inspection in the
field needs to be speeded up and made more effective in fulfilling their regularly
functions,” he pointed out.
The latest UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic estimates that 65 million
people have been infected with HIV, of whom some 25 million have died since the
start of the epidemic 25 years ago. The rate of new HIV infections continues to
climb every year, with an estimated 4.1 million people having been infected in the
twelve months ending December 2005. Globally, the total number of people living with
the virus also continues to grow, reaching 38.6 million at the end of 2005 and
trends indicate that left unchecked the epidemic will continue to increase.
In other words, at this stage of the global AIDS epidemic there are more HIV
infections every year than AIDS-related deaths.
With the WHO projecting an alarming scenario for AIDS, the National AIDS Control
Organisation has increased its efforts to move towards centralizing blood
transfusion services and to reduce fragmentation in management, especially in urban
areas. In rural and difficult to access areas, stand alone or small blood banks will
be encouraged. It will also continue to have quality management in blood banking.
“All aspects like processes, products, equipment, consumables etc. would
increasingly be subjected to quality assurance procedures, so that a safe and
reliable transfusion services can be provided,” says a NACO strategy report.

Psycho-social counselling to form part of disaster management

(October 30, 2006)
By Syed Akbar
The National Disaster Management Authority has now made a provision for
psycho-social counselling of victims of natural calamities. The NDMA,
which has been entrusted with the task of framing India's first-ever National
Disaster Management Policy, feels that psycho-social counselling of victims
will reduce their mental trauma and bring them back to normal life at a faster
The National Disaster Management Policy, which is likely to be in place by
New Year, lays emphasis on mental relief as much as on physical succour.
The NDMA is all set to submit its draft policy to Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh in a couple of week for Cabinet approval and necessary legislation.
Addressing trauma or psychological injury in natural or man-made calamities
has always been a Herculean task. Governments and social workers
worldwide encounter the delicate situation of supplying relief to victims vis-
à-vis consoling them to reduce the untold mental trauma or shock they had
But the case had been quite different in India all these years. Central and
State governments as also humanitarian aid groups simply concentrated on
providing relief and rehabilitation. They did not focus on psychological
counselling to reduce mental and physical trauma. Consequently, the victims
continued to suffer mentally for many years despite being rehabilitated
physically. The tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean two years ago had opened
the eyes of policy makers and planners in India forcing them to come out
with a disaster management policy with a thrust on psycho-social
"Management of trauma, both mental and physical, is an important issue in
case of natural calamities. We can reduce the physical trauma but managing
the mental trauma is not an easy task. We are going in for a comprehensive
approach with regard to psycho-social support and trauma counselling. One
of the suggestions we have received is to involve the victims in relief works
so that it could lessen their mental shock," National Disaster Management
Authority member Lt. Gen (rtd) Dr JR Bhardwaj said.
Dr Bhardwaj, who was in Hyderabad recently along with NDMA vice-
chairman Gen NC Vij and other members for a feedback from intellectuals
and scientists on the draft National Disaster Management Policy, admitted
that India was not well equipped to tackle trauma cases in major disasters or
calamities. The NDM policy will lay down certain guidelines on this issue.
Unfortunately in India trauma care is yet to receive its due importance as an
emergency medical service. Even in big cities trauma care does not form part
of the regular medical service.
Internationally renowned trauma care expert David Romig of the Emergency
Medical Care Service, San Francisco, USA, feels that lack of basic trauma
care in India was one of the main reasons for the escalation in the number of
deaths, be it in accidents or natural calamities. "Doctors alone cannot do it.
There should be proper awareness among people too," Romig, who was in
the country recently, pointed out.
This is precisely the reason why the NDMA has plans to involve the local
community in relief and rehabilitation programmes. It also aims at creating
awareness, providing the infrastructure and ensuring access to the
infrastructure in emergency situations.
The major task the NDMA is going to put on the shoulders of the Central and
the State governments is upgradation of the existing medical services
including state-of-the-art ambulance facilities. The country need to train
paramedical staff to deal with natural calamities, which warrant mandatory
trauma care during what health experts call the "golden hour" (the crucial
period immediately after the tragedy).
"Victims of natural disasters or major man-made accidents require
professional psychological care to reduce the emotional injuries or mental
trauma. After every calamity, people live in a state of shock and their
emotional recovery could take years. We cannot fill up the loss, but we can
certain reduce their suffering through psycho-social counselling," Fr P
Balaswamy, director of Social Service Centre, Vijayawada, observed.
The Social Service Centre and the Indian Red Cross Society experimented
with what they called "community-based disaster management programme"
in areas affected by Tsunami in Krishna district. They adopted a two-pronged
strategy - built houses for the victims and took up community interaction, a
simple psychological technique but with greater soothing effect. This concept
is novel to India and NDMA has collected tips from these two organisations
for adoption on a larger level in the country.
"In natural calamities many victims suffer from psychosomatic symptoms of
trauma including listlessness, headaches, nightmares, chest pain and anxiety.
If we do not attend to them, some of them may turn to destructive behaviours,
like alcoholism, domestic violence or crime. There will always be a sufficient
number of cases of mentally debility life. Feelings such as empathy and
compassion can make a difference for hopeless and confused people," says
senior psychiatrist Dr Indla Ramasubba Reddy.
Health and community workers, who participated in relief works in cyclones
and floods, suggest that communities must to taught how to get those affected
to speak on the calamity. Special care should be taken of children and they
must be encouraged to act out their feelings and fears through paintings,
sports, competitions and theatre activities. "Otherwise, we could be looking
at a lost generation," Dr Ramasubba Reddy warns.
According to Dr Bhardwaj, the most common psychological reaction among
disaster survivors are symptoms of acute stress and even psychological
trauma and post traumatic stress disorder. Crisis intervention is also needed.
"Soon after natural calamities, we should not only focus on individual needs
but also concentrate on community-based interventions to enhance the
capacity of the community to provide appropriate support to people,"
suggests Fr Balaswamy.

Obesity emerges as major cause of infertility in men

(December 13, 2006)
By Syed Akbar
Smoking, pollution and sexually transmitted diseases have long been linked to
infertility. But obesity has now emerged as the major cause of sterility in men.
Health surveys carried out in different parts of the world including Hyderabad
reveal that overweight men tend to produce less quantity of sperm which leads of
infertility in them. Even the World Health Organisation in its latest report points
out obesity as one of the three main factors for infertility, coupled with smoking
and sexually transmitted diseases, particular AIDS.
A team of embryologists from Cambridge, UK, are presently in Hyderabad exploring the
reasons why obesity is leading to defective sperm and explaining to local doctors
the steps one should take to improve the fertility levels. The Centre for
infertility Management is coordinating with the UK embryologists at a camp on
assisted reproductive technologies on intracytoplasic sperm injection, blastocyst
culture, assisted hatching and cryopreservation and vitrification of ovarian tissue
and oocyte. The camp which begins on December 14 will continue till December 17.
In India one out of every 200 men are infertile. “Most men are not aware of the
dangers of delaying treatment. While before 36 years is the best age to treat the
problem, most men prefer to go for semen analysis, which in most cases turned out to
be useless. Though, once or twice is enough, most men go for it at least 10 times
the issue of male infertility was about being viewed lightly by many while truth was
that in 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the cases dealt daily, problem was with men
alone,” says fertility expert Dr Roya Rozati.
According to Dr Markku Sallmen of Institute of Occupational Health, it was found in
a research study carried out by them that a 10 kgs increase in a man's weight may
increase the chance of infertility by about 10 per cent. A BMI from 18.5 to 24.9 is
considered normal while a BMI of more than 25 is considered overweight. A person is
considered obese if the BMI is greater than 30 and morbidly obese if the BMI is 40
or greater.
The average chance to conceive for a normally fertile couple having regular,
unprotected intercourse is about 25 per cent during each menstrual cycle. In most
couples, conception occurs within a year. However, infertility affects about 12 per
cent of couples of childbearing age. Husbands are a contributing cause of
infertility in about 40 per cent of infertile couples.
The WHO report (2006) points out that there are more than 186 million infertile
couples in developing countries excluding China. In worst affected countries, 25 per
cent of couples are infertile.
Surveys reveal that obesity accounts for 6 per cent of primary infertility in the
United States. Infertility can be corrected by restoring body weight to within
normal established limits.
Research carried out by the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, Australia
reveals that even obese women tend to be infertile. Women who are fatter are at risk
of losing their fertility levels than women who are slim.
Physiology researcher Siew Lim point out that such women also suffer from
miscarriages and have irregular menstrual cycles. “Two thirds of Australians are now
either overweight or obese and there is no sign of it levelling off. Metabolic
diseases and obesity-related reproductive disorders are going to increase if nothing
is done,” she says.
Like men obese women are about three times more likely to be infertile compared to
normal women. Obesity rates have doubled in many parts of the world including India
in the last 20 years. Even children studying in schools are increasingly turning
Health experts warn that childhood obesity in adolescence and young adulthood needs
to be targeted early so that women enter their reproductive years without carrying
excess weight. This is because, obese women are more likely to give birth to
overweight babies and this creates a vicious cycle. “We need to break this cycle
now, otherwise we will have a higher incidence of infertility and reproductive
disorders,” they point out.

US Looks to India for Research on Medicinal Plants for Cancer Treatment

November 15, 2006
By Syed Akbar
With more and more health-conscious Americans turning to plant products
for their daily needs, the United States is now looking towards the ancient
Indian systems of herbal medicine to unravel the secrets of cure hidden in
herbs native to sub-continent.
A team of American researchers visited Hyderabad early this week to chalk
out a strategy with local scientists to develop new medicinal products from
natural sources like plants and herbs. America does not have traditional
medicine while India has a heritage of natural medicinal products that trace
back in history to more than 5000 years.
The American scientists will utilise the traditional knowledge of herb-based
Indian medicinal systems like Ayurveda, Unani and Sidda and explore their
curative properties as part of their project to validate the medicinal properties
of the herbs grown on Indian soil. The emphasis will be on new herbal drugs
for cancer, malaria and other life-threatening diseases, besides natural
pesticides for agricultural use.
The demand for consumer products derived from plants, herbal products,
botanicals, dietary supplements, phytomedicines and nutraceuticals,
dramatically increased in the US in the past five years. But, the quality of the
products that are on the marketplace is highly variable and neither the
consumer nor the healthcare professional is able to distinguish between high
and low quality products.
"India has a rich tradition of herbs and herbal products. But many of them
lack scientific validation. Our research collaboration with the Americans will
help us understand these natural products in a more scientific way," says Dr
JS Yadav, director of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology.
The IICT and the National Centre for Natural Products Research, University
of Mississippi, have tied-up to discover new drugs from natural sources.
While India provides its rich and varied herbarium to the Americans, the
latter will revalidate the medicinal properties of Indian herbs for effective use
for the benefit of humanity at large.
Over the years, natural products have been the mainstay of drug discovery
programme. Although several other systems have come into being, desired
results could not be obtained. Hence the focus is again shifted to natural
products, says Prof Larry Walker, director of NCNPR, USA.
Natural products are currently used across the world as herbal drugs, dietary
supplements and neutraceuticals. With increase in demand for the natural
products, big pharma companies from across the globe have once again
shifted their attention towards natural products and increased their efforts
towards finding new bioactive molecules from them.
According to Prof Ikhlas Khan, director, FDA programme, USA, natural
products offer a vast and virtually unlimited source of new agents for both
pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. "As part of the MoU signed
between IICT (CSIR) and NCNPR, we are conducting basic and applied
multidisciplinary research to discover and develop natural products for use as
pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and agrochemicals, and to understand
the biological and chemical properties of medicinal plants," he points out.
The Indo-US research focus will be on discovering new drugs for unmet
therapeutic needs such as cancer and infectious diseases, improving the
quality and safety of botanical dietary supplements, and discovering new,
effective agrochemicals that will not harm the environment. It will also target
on discovering bioactive natural products, developing novel technologies and
processes that facilitate the discovery of bioactive natural products and
providing research based information on plant-derived products with
medicinal or agricultural applications.
Prof Walker says that emphasis will be on agents that control certain
infectious diseases, cancer and immune disorders. Chemical constituents
responsible for biological effects are identified and then either isolated and
purified in the search for new single entity pharmaceutical ingredients, or
characterised and standardised in the search for new multicomponent
botanical products.
Current products include the discovery and development of antifungal agents
for life-threatening infections, anti-cancer agents that target specific critical
processes in the cancer cell, antibiotics effective against bacteria that are
resistant to many current antibiotics, new drugs for tuberculosis, malaria and
other tropical parasitic diseases, antioxidants for cancer prevention,
immunostimulatory botanicals, anti-inflammatory botanicals, and the
development of Dronabinol Hemisuccinate suppositories to control nausea
due to chemotherapy and for pain management.
"Our goal is to identify botanical products with the potential to improve
human health and to conduct applied research that will enhance the safe and
proper use of botanical products by heatlhcare professionals and consumers,"
says Prof Khan.
Although the science of pharmacognosy is enjoying a vigorous renaissance
due to the widespread use of herbal medicine and natural products as
supplements, Dr Yadav feels that challenges are being faced to authenticate
and standardise these products.
On the other hand re-emerging diseases require new approaches and
solutions. As history indicates, the best source for new chemical entities is
the natural source. "In order to explore full potential of natural products the
collaborative research is needed," he says.
"Our natural products research effort is a broad, multidisciplinary, integrated
programme with three major emphasis areas: the discovery and early
development of potential new drugs and agrochemicals from natural
products; the understanding and science-based characterisation of botanical
products used as dietary supplements; and research on medicinal plants, the
production and processing of their pharmaceutical actives, and their potential
for the development of alternative crops", observes Prof Walker.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

And now Magnetic Cure for Cancer?

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 7: Indian scientists are now busy developing a "magnetic cure" for cancer.
Using nanomagnetic particles cancerous cells in a human body can be killed without affecting the healthy cells in the neighbourhood, says Dr Prahlada, chief controller of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory.
Dr Prahlada, who is also one of the top defence scientists in the country, points out that the magnetic therapy will not allow cancer cells to grow by inhibiting the cell division mechanism. "This is one of the safest mechanisms to treat cancer. The healthy cells in the neighbourhood are left untouched while only the cancerous ones are targeted. This technology allows normal cells to grow but prevents cancerous cells to stop. The treatment is localised," he observes.
Indian scientists as also those in other countries are carrying out research on nanomagnetic particles as part of non-destructive evaluation which is fast emerging as a major field in medicine, aerospace, transport, industry and defence sectors.
According to Prahlada, scientists are also looking out the possibility of enhancing bone age in view of increased life span of human beings. "We have technology to improve heart efficiency which will increase the life span. But the problem is with regard to bones which become weak as a person grows in age. Non-destructive technology will help in identifying the problems if any with bones at an early stage so that the life span of bones is increased to prolong the overall life span of an individual," he adds.
The nanotechnology using magnets focuses on developing uniform particles with a Curie temperature. Nanomagnetic particles will self-regulate the temperature of the tumour during magnetic hyperthermia and thus avoid the use of temperature controls.
In this method there is a defined transfer of power onto magnetic nanoparticles in an alternate magnetic field determined by the frequency, magnetic field strength, materials and the size of particles, which results in local generation of heat. This heat will either destroy the tumour cells directly or result in a synergic reinforcement of radiation efficacy, depending on the equilibrium temperature set in the tumour tissue.
Some of the materials currently being investigated for nanomagnetic therapy include Gadolinium-Zinc ferrite, Caesium, Erbium and magnesium ferrous oxide ferrite.
Earlier, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy inaugurated a national seminar on non-destructive evaluation - 2006 in which scientists from over a dozen countries participated. Hyderabad has been leading the country in the field of non-destructive evaluation with ECIL, University of Hyderabad and DRDO taking part along with BARC. Non-destructive testing is going to play a major role in security checks in the next five years with terrahertz technology being used to detect weapons and IEDs hidden in vehicles or underground. ND testing is also being used in cancer treatment and in treatment of bone problems.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

And now bio-fertilisers using bacterial culture

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 5: With farmers suffering heavily due to increased use of chemical fertilisers, the State government has decided to promote bio-fertilisers using bacterial culture to boost farm production and prevent decline of soil health.
Farmers in the State have the dubious distinction of using the largest quantity of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in the country. More than half of the farm inputs consumed in the country goes into agricultural fields in Andhra Pradesh. Lakhs of acres of prime agricultural land has turned either saline or alkaline thanks to indiscriminate application of complex fertilisers and pesticides.
The State government has now come out with well thoughtout plan to wean away farmers from harmful fertilisers by encouraging them to go in for bio-fertilisers developed from bacterial culture. It has also come out with specific guidelines for manufacturers and traders on the quality of bio-fertilisers to prevent spurious culture.
The bacteria proposed for bio-fertiliser development include Rhizobium inoculants, Azotobacter chroococcum inoculants, Azospirillum inocculants and phosphate solubilising bacterial inoculant.
The government has made registration of manufacturers mandatory to maintain quality of bio-fertilisers supplied in the State market. Adulteration of bio-fertilisers also invites penal action including a prison term extending up to one year or and fine of Rs 50,000.