Philmech tests betel nut, trichoderma as pest/fungal solutions
(The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The technology and mechanization research arm of the agriculture department is expanding its  initial research on the use of betel nut and trichoderma as organic pest and fungal infection control solutions.

The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech) initially tested at least eight plants for pest control, but the betel nut showed the greatest potential in significantly reducing crop pests and some fungal infections.

“This can be considered a very big step in PhilMech’s research and development efforts to come up with organic solutions for use by Filipino farmers,” said Philmech executive director Rex Bingabing.

“Betel is also widely grown in the Philippines and for sure, there are thousands of such trees in the country today,” he added.

Aside from  betel nut, PhilMech scientists also explored the pest-control potential of  fish poison tree (bituon), stink grass (kantu-tay), anobrang (anobrang), devil weed (hagonoy), bayating (bayating), jatropha (tubang bakod or tuba-tuba), and acacia.

The extracts were tested against common crop pests like corn and rice weevil, red flour beetle, and grain borer.

The extracts were also tested against fungal plant pathogens Apergillus flavus, Lasiodiplodia theobromae, Fusarium verticilloides, and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.

“Among the eight botanicals tested, only betel showed significant effect on the mortality of adult insects and fungal pathogens,” said Bingabing.

PhilMech is also researching the ability of a strain of the fungus trichoderma harzianum to fight  major postharvest fungal pathogens in banana that causes crown rot.

Trichoderma formulations from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States are available in commercial farm supply outlets.

Philmech, however, wants to develop an organic alternative. 

So far, Philmech has successfully isolated strain DGA02 of trichoderma harzianum which was found effective against pathogens that cause banana crown rot.

Banana crown rot is one of the major post harvest problems of farmers and exporters.

“The ultimate objective is to come up with a commercial package that will be easily used by banana farmers and exporters,” Bingabing said.

The commercial package can be in the form of wettable powder, granular formulations, pelleted formulation and liquid formulation.

APERGILLUS BINGABING COLLETOTRICHUM FUSARIUM LASIODIPLODIA PHILIPPINE CENTER PHILMECH POSTHARVEST DEVELOPMENT AND MECHANIZATION REX BINGABING SWEDEN AND THE UNITED STATES
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