Malaysia – A group of researchers from Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) have produced an organic-based biopesticide to overcome the issue of pests while increasing paddy yield.
The biopesticide has been developed by five lecturers and 15 UTP students since 2015 under UTP’s corporate social responsibility programme.
Its Project leader Professor Dr Suzana Yusup said the project, which was a collaborative effort between UTP and Department of Agriculture Malaysia as well as Bio-X Techno Sdn Bhd, successfully proved that organic insecticides can overcome attacks from insects such as the brown plant hoppers, locusts and other bugs.
“Farmers from the Perak Tengah district of Malaysia had suffered great losses, which affected their source of income. Thus, UTP together with the government department and the private sector took the initiative to address the issue.
“Organic poison does not affect consumer’s health nor damage the environment as it is made from plants in Malaysia,” said Suzana who is also a lecturer at UTP’s Chemical Engineering Department. She has been working on this biopesticide since 2015 as the lead researcher. She also heads a research cluster under UTP Centre for Biofuel and Biochemical Research.
She said the study was conducted to identify the effectiveness of organic poison used for three seasons on paddy planting areas at the Paddy Centre of Excellence, in Titi Serong Agriculture Department, Perak, Malaysia.
“We have carried out two comparisons using organic poison and chemical poison. The findings of the study revealed that the (paddy) yield slightly increased although with unpredictable weather,” she said.
Suzana added that UTP intends to promote the product in the domestic and foreign market while improving the quality of the biopesticide. “We are now ready to test it in a greenhouse environment and this will further add to the evidence of its efficacy and benefits,” Suzana revealed.
She added that UTP has already applied for a patent on the biopesticide formula and is now in discussions with a company to take it to the next level. “The formula will eventually be licensed to a company because we need a lot of other endorsements and have to meet numerous agency requirements before taking it further into the production and commercialisation process.”
“We are working alongside an international bio-based pesticide company with the support of the Department of Agriculture Malaysia to improve the formula and make it into a ‘one-solve-all’ biopesticide,” said Suzana.