KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - In a big Sudanese scientific achievement two professors from the Sudan University of Science and Technology have obtained a patent for the use of the leaves, branches and stems of the local herb hargel (scientific name Solennostemma argel) as an effective stimulant for the growth of crops and also as an organic pesticide for some harmful plant diseases.
Observers consider the findings and the patent a landmark in the Sudan’s agricultural progress.
The patent was awarded by the Registrar of the Sudan Intellectual Property to Professor Awad Khalafalla and Professor Alsir Ibrahim Mohammad Idris of the Research Center, the University’s Agricultural Studies College. The patent has taken the number 3144.
The Sudan Intellectual Property has entitled the patent as: Scientific patent on use of Argel (Solennostemma argel) shoots as a growth & yield bio-stimulant and bio-pesticide on horticultural crops.
According to its abstract, the study “was based on preliminary observations on the above stated properties of Argel. A series of experiments were conducted to prove the validation of these assumptions. Highly significant growth & yield gains were obtained in crops treated with Argel as a low concentration water foliar spray or a direct addition to soil in low quantities. Enhanced yields were reported on date palms, mango, banana, okra, field and greenhouse tomatoes coupled with the disappearance of harmful threats of pests and diseases.
This might be a tool for organic production to avoid the health hazards of agricultural chemicals."
For more explanations Sudanow has contacted Dr. Awad Khalafalla Taha, Professor of Plant Protection at the College (M.Sc. and PhD from the University of Newcastle - UK) who said the idea had emerged from a lot of research aimed at finding effective means against pests which at the same time do not harm neither man nor animals and which constitute safe and friendly sources for the echo-system.
In the past most pest control was carried out by the use of chemical pesticides due to their direct effect in the killing of pests, but as a result of the heavy use of chemical pesticides, it became clear that these chemicals have negative effects represented in poisonings in human beings, animals and plants in addition to their harmful effects on the eco-system.
Here came the idea for finding natural alternative killers for the different types of pests.
It was found that a chemical pesticide that used to give 100 percent results in the killing of pests has now settled down to no more 20 percent in pest mortality. For this there emerged the idea for looking for alternative ways and means for pest control. These means included the use of different plant extracts either in the form of dry powders, liquids or gasses.
Previously Sudan had tried to use different plants in pest control. The plants used in this endeavor included the neem tree (azadirachta indica), argel, camphor, spearmint, garlic and others. The results of those studies had stimulated the creation of this natural organic pesticide from the argel plant that grows wild in all parts of Sudan. It can also be cultivated.
Prof. Taha said while applying the argel plant extracts he came to realize it has an effect as a pest repellent. After conducting several experiments on a number of farm pests such as the groundnut and beans beetles, he found that argel has an effect equal to the effect of authorized chemical pesticides. But the cost of the pesticide extracted from argel was just five percent of that of the chemical pesticides.
He also used the argel extracts to fight disease-carrying pests like the anopheles that carries malaria and the carriers of elephantine and yellow fever.
In these cases the effect of the argel extract was tantamount to that of chemical pesticides, but with a huge difference in terms of financial cost. Another advantage of the argel extracts is that they can be prepared and used by the farmer all by himself and at the least cost.
Prof. Khalfalla said experimentation on plant extracts to kill pests was underway for a lot of years now at the College of Agriculture in Shambat here. At every stage the College researchers would discover new plants with good effect on pests. He paid tribute to his fellow researchers and technicians at the College and the National Center For Research who cooperated with them in these researches.
It is our hope that we could establish a central laboratory for the chemical analysis of the effective components of the different plants and to prepare liquid, powder and gas extracts from plants, he said, concluding that their aim was always to provide low- cost natural and environment-friendly means for pest control .
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