scientists at the Directorate of Oilseed Research (dor), Hyderabad, have developed the world's first microbial insecticide in solid form. According to D M Hegde, project director, dor, "The product is made from Bacillus thuringiensis (bt) bacteria of the kurstaki strain isolated from Mahboobnagar and Nalgonda districts in Andhra Pradesh." Knock wp, the insecticide in solid form, is ready for commercial utilisation and has been registered with the Central Insecticides Board (cib).
The invention, according to Hegde, is unique. "Insecticides in dust form are usually costly and are effective only against lepideptoran insects, while ours is affordable and a broad-spectrum pesticide," he says.The pesticide was initially developed to tame semilooper infestation in castor fields of Andhra Pradesh but was later developed as a broad-spectrum insecticide, effective against four insects, including leaf folder that bugs rice, and all insects of tomato.
P S Vimala Devi, senior entomologist at dor, says, "This is a good way to get rid of capital-intensive and environment-destroying chemical insecticides. It is also a good ingredient for integrated pest management." A patent application for the solid fermentation technology is also underway. "This is a cost-effective technology and can be a possible cottage industry in itself. A women's group is already into manufacturing the product," says Hegde.
bt insecticide in the liquid form is usually imported and marketed by multinational companies. However, they have been able to capture less than one per cent of the total insecticide market. According to Hegde, "Despite being biodegradable and environment friendly, high pricing has been the impediment in promotion of such insecticides." Presently, a litre of liquid bt is sold at Rs 800-Rs 1,000, but the the latest bt insecticide developed by dor will be priced between Rs 200 and Rs 250.
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