NCL, firm join hands for eco-friendly pest mgmt

ST Correspondent
Sunday, 12 May 2019

Pest attacks result in loss of food produce worth USD 470 billion globally

Pune: CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), Pune, signed a technology license with Hyderabad-based
Pheromones Biotech LLP, for development of an eco-friendly technology for pest management without using toxic
pesticides. 

Pest control using sex pheromones is a revolutionary technology to selectively treat pests, without the use of
pesticides and without harming helpful insects. Pheromones are chemicals secreted by pests to attract mates.

When pheromones are coated on plants, pests can no longer locate their mates and cannot breed, thus drastically
controlling the pest population, and in turn protecting plants.

This environmentally-friendly technology eliminates the need for harmful pesticides. Pheromones Biotech LLP has partnered with NCL to develop a first-of-its-kind sex pheromone technology. 

The company has developed pheromones for over 300 pests, while NCL has developed technology to effectively deliver the pheromones. One of the major problems with delivery of agrochemicals in fields is that they get washed off by rain or dew. NCL’s technology uses food-grade, plant-based materials that helps attach the material onto plant surfaces in such manner that they are not easily removed. This increases the efficacy and minimises wastage of expensive pheromones. This technology is envisaged to be deployed as a ‘No pump No spray’ technology that is well suited for Indian conditions. The Pheromones Biotech LLP/CSIR-NCL collaboration will
commercialise solutions for Fall Army Worm, Pink Boll Worm and Helicoverpa, which infest corn, cotton and several other crops. This approach represents a paradigm shift in the way agricultural pest management is practiced today.

This NCL technology was developed by a group led by Dr Guruswamy Kumaraswamy, Scientist, Polymer Science and
Engineering Division. He said that the CSIR-NCL technology worked by changing how the plant surface was wetted.

He said, “This technology represents a radically new way of delivering agrochemicals to plants and is ideal for pheromone delivery. Going beyond this application, changing surface characteristics, which is what our technology does has much wider use. We envisage that this technology will also find use in applications such as advanced printing methods." 

Chair of Polymer Science and Engineering at NCL Ulhas Kharul, said, “The collaboration with Pheromones Biotech LLP follows NCL’s tradition of developing practical technological solutions based on cutting-edge science. This is in line with the laboratory’s vision – to advance chemical science and practise it for the good of the people.” 

MD of Pheromones Biotech LLP, Markandeya Gorantla, said, “We are excited by the partnership with CSIR-NCL. With
this collaboration, Pheromones Biotech LLP can offer a unique Made in India technology that will be a boon to farmers in India and all over the world.” 

Pest attacks result in loss of food produce worth USD 470 billion globally. Pests are conventionally managed by spraying pesticides that could pollute soil and ground water. Today, farmers typically use what are called ‘broad spectrum’ pesticides that cannot distinguish between pests and helpful insects, killing both. 

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