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Role of Fungicides in Food and Crop Health Security for Better Tomorrow

Sanjeev Kumar



Fungicides are absolutely essential for prevention of plant diseases and improving crop yield, which is otherwise lost due to diseases. Their role has assumed importance where desirable host resistance against diseases is lacking. For many of the destructive diseases such as those caused by the members of oomycetes, against which effective host resistance is not available or when the host resistance is easily broken by new pathogen races, fungicides serve as the main method of defense. These diseases were earlier difficult to be controlled by conventional contact fungicides but with the availability of more specific systemic phenylamides and related compounds, it is now much easier to manage them. Likewise, it is now more economical to control diseases like powdery mildew, rusts, smuts, bunts, apple scab, cercospora blights, etc., with triazoles and related EBI fungicides at much lower doses than earlier compounds due to their broad spectrum activity. Internally seed borne pathogens like smuts, bunts, etc., can be effectively controlled by seed treatment with systemic fungicides with negligible expenses on the treatment. It is undoubtedly evident that the use of fungicides has enhanced economic returns of the farmers. In most of the spray applications, the increases in yield that can be attributed to fungicide usage are, on an average, worth at least three times the cost of the inputs which can go as high as more than ten times in case of seed treatments. In addition, the farmer gets a healthy blemish-free crop produce, which carries much significance in context with the WTO regime. No ill or adverse effect of fungicides on human health, environment and ecosystem occurs if the pesticides are used ethically following guidelines provided by Pesticide Action Network (PAN), Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) and scientists. The ill effect ever witnessed is due to man’s folly and pesticides cannot be blamed for the hazards. However, to minimize the hazards and to prevent ecological disruption, making disease control cost effective and socially acceptable, fungicides can be used as an integral part of IDM system.

Keywords: Fungicides, disease management, food and healthy security

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