Good News for Organic Banana Growers!

The Research Scholar Ms. Helseena E.H under the supervision of Dr. Jisha M.S  of the National Institute of Plant Science Technology (NIPST) at MGU has developed an effective biopesticide formulation from a newly isolated and characterized Lysinibacillus Sphaericus against banana Pseudostem Weevil (BPW), Odoiporuslongicollis. Oliver,  a noxious pest of banana causes 100%yield loss due to premature crop falling. An extensive field study revealed that, infested by the insect normally occurs from the fifth month onwards in conjunction with the emergence of banana inflorescence. The current management strategy relies upon pseudostem injection of insecticides.But these chemical controls can cause environmental pollution, they are toxic to humans and banned in several countries; Nevertheless, no satisfactory control of pests could be achieved. Research on biological control of BSW inadequate and reports are scanty. It becomes an evidence that there is an urgent need for a biological agent, possessing the desirable properties of a chemical pesticide, making it highly toxic to target organisms, which can mass-produced on an industrial scale, has a long shelf life, and safely transport.

In an Organic farmers conference, they discussed us the loss of their banana cultivation due to the attack of pseudostem borer, the problem they are facing during the sale and export of banana due to the use of chemical pesticides, and the unavailability of effective biocontrol measure. Based on the feedback from the farmers we started to develop a solution for this problem. The isolate Lysinibacillus Sphaericus purified from the Rice leaf sheath. It is a Diazotrophic Endophytic bacteria. Which showed positive results for IAA production, Siderophore production, and Nitrogen fixation. A biopesticide was developed and screening of biopesticide was done by means of efficacy bioassays performed in vitro, in vivo, or in pilot trials under real conditions of application and conducted a field trial to evaluate the efficacy of biopesticide to the banana pseudostem weevil. For the market release, the product was checked for biosafety. The toxicity study of aquatic organisms showed positive results. Our work results proved that the newly developed biopesticide has high potency in controlling the pest in a farmer’s field, and they are satisfied with the new pesticide. The organism is showing dual effect as PGPR and as biocontrol agents and also the same organism has an effect on sheath blight disease in rice and chilly plant disease. Hence, the formulation characterised in this study can have the ability to induce multiple beneficial impacts in the agriculture field.