By: Rogia al-Shafee
KHARTOUM (Suanow) - Sudan has been spending huge sums of money for the importation of chemical pesticides. But the wisdom of local farmers has found a natural alternative from the family of plants: Basil (scientific name: Ocimum basilicum).
Crop farmers in the extensive rain-fed farmlands of the Aldali and Almazmoom regions has discovered that the plant ‘basil’, that grows wild within their farms, can be used to repel malaria carrying mosquitoes. The farmers simply burn dry basil plants to create incense that drives away the sinister malaise. The farmers have equally used the incense thus obtained to repel other pests that destroy their crops.
This discovery has inspired scientific researchers to concoct pesticides from this plant. In collaboration with a U.S research institute and with funding from Saudi and Egyptian companies, researchers have extracted basil seed oil and with certain additions, have managed to produce an effective mosquito repellent.
Basil is an annual or sometimes perennial herb. It is its leaves that are used as pest repellent or as a cuisine.
Depending on the variety, basil plants can reach between 30 cm (0.98 ft) and 150 cm (4.9 ft). Its leaves are richly green and ovate, but otherwise come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes depending on cultivar. Leaf sizes range from 3 cm (1.2 in) to 11 cm (4.3 in) long, and between 1 cm (0.39 in) and 6 cm (2.4 in) wide. Basil grows a thick, central taproot. Its flowers are small and purple or white, and grow from a central inflorescence that emerges from the central stem atop the plant.
Basil is largely a parasitic plant because it grows with the crops and thus deprives them from available rain water.
Herbs experts cite basil as an antiseptic and anti-germ plant. Its leaves are anti-inflammatory, good for the heart health and respiratory system problems. Basil is also good for the skin and hair.
Nutrition-wise basil is rich in Vitamin C. Because of its calcium content, basil guards the body against Osteomalacia "soft bones." Its iron content balances the blood. Used with cloves and honey, basil also helps with asthma and other respiratory disorders. It is also used in the treatment of kidney stones, in the healing of wounds and in the treatment of smallpox and measles. It is also used in the treatment of common children diseases and helps to quit smoking and for the treatment of soar eye, toothaches and fatigue. It is also used to remove bad mouth smell.
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