Extracts from its leaves may be useful against three destructive pests — Pod borer, Green peach aphid and fall armyworm — with a mortality rate of 78-88%
A 17-year-old research intern at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) bagged the third prize at the International Science and Engineering Fair in the United States — the world’s largest pre-college science fair.
Sarvesh Prabhu, a high school student from FIITJEE Junior College, Hyderabad, won the prize for developing a cost-effective bio-insecticide from the leaves of bullock’s heart tree (Annona reticulata), popularly known as ramphal.
His project, A unique investigation of bio-insecticidal characteristics of Annona reticulata, demonstrated the plant’s ability to repel insects through its leaves.
Also read: Centre launches dedicated website to contain Fall Armyworm
Extracts from different parts of this plant have traditionally been used to cure conditions including dysentery and pediculosis (louse infestation).
Extracts from its leaves may be useful against three destructive pests — Pod borer, Green peach aphid and fall armyworm — with a mortality rate of 78-88 per cent, the research claimed. All these pests are known for incurring crop losses to farmers.
Pod borer (Helicoverpa armigera) alone may cause losses worth more than $300 million (over Rs 24 billion) annually. Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) causes 38-42 per cent yield loss in various crops and fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) causes 21-53 per cent losses in the absence of pest management.
The fall armyworm impact on Indian agriculture was considerable. So much so that the country had to import maize to meet the poultry and animal feed industry’s demand after the pest destroyed its maize crop in 2018.
Also read: Fall Armyworm attack: The damage done
“The mortality rate of pests between 78-88 per cent in lab conditions is a very encouraging result. In the next stage, the bio-pesticide must be tested in greenhouse and field conditions for its efficacy against different insect pests,” said Rajan Sharma, cluster leader, Crop Protection and Seed Health, ICRISAT.
Bio-insecticides lead to healthy and pesticide-free produce, costing between $9 and $12 per acre of cropland. It costs a humble $0.33 per litre to produce pesticide from the leaves of the bullock’s heart.
This makes it a cost-effective pesticide for smallholder farmers and provides an additional source of revenue through the sale of fruits for human consumption and the leaves for bio-pesticide extracts.
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