With two weeks to go before the ban on the use of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos comes into force, officials are speeding up their efforts to find effective alternative substances, especially for the two herbicides.
The working committee, tasked with finding the alternatives and headed by Agriculture Permanent Secretary Anant Suwanrat, has made it clear that the alternatives must not be chemicals.
Currently, there are 73 bio products approved by the Agricultural Technique Department, which have been proved to be effective in controlling insects and plant diseases, but they are not effective against weeds.
While effective alternatives are still not available, Mr. Anant said that the working committee has been considering contingency measures to help farmers cope with anticipated rising production costs resulting from the ban on the use of paraquat and glyphosate.
Mr. Anant said that, initially, heavy machinery will be employed to get rid of weeds, but this approach has limitations because there are not many such machines available and they are more costly than herbicides.
In the longer term, he said that bio-herbicides should be the solution, adding that the Land Development Department has made progress in its research on the use of microbes for killing weeds.
Mr. Alongkorn Polabutr, an advisor to the working committee, recently made a field trip to a sugarcane plantation of Mr. Surin Khanthong, a farmer in Ban Nong Makha in Dan Chang district of Suphan Buri, who has been using microbes to kill weeds for the past seven years.
Surin reportedly told Alongkorn that the microbes kill the weeds but have no impact on the environment. He also said that he found there are more earth worms and insects, which feed on insect pests and, more importantly, the costs are similar to using paraquat.