Hyderabad: The soft and fleshy Sitaphal is not just for your taste buds. It is useful for plants too in controlling severe pest.
Sitaphal or custard apple has so far found its way into tasty ice creams and milkshakes. And soon it is going to revolutionise the Indian agricultural scenario what with its seeds taking over the role of natural pesticide. Farmers who have used the pesticide prepared from custard apple seeds point out that their yields have gone up considerably without they having to spend much on farm inputs.
Two Hyderabad-based scientific bodies have successfully extracted insect-killing chemicals from the seeds of custard apples. The Sitaphal pesticide is inexpensive, environment-friendly and highly effective in containing a variety of pests on a number of crops.
Research studies carried out by the International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology have shown that acetogenins found in the seeds of custard apple would actually help fight plant pests.
"Seeds make up one-third of the weight of custard apple. Acetogenins are toxic to insects. These biologically active ingredients reduce leaf disc feeding and larval massing of the armyworm, Mythimna separata. The extracts also control stem borer, Chilo partellus. Alcohol extracts were found to be nearly as toxic as nicotine sulfate," says an ICRISAT report.
The seed extracts also showed synergistic activity in combination with neem seed extract. The combination is far more effective than either one used alone. This combination works well on several pests, including Callosobruchus chinensis, Rhizopertha dominica and Musca domestica nebulo.
"I could control the problem of rice leaf hopper on my crop to a great extent. I simply mixed the sitaphal extract with neem oil. I noticed that the lifespan of leaf hopper had reduced. The transmission of rice tungro virus was also checked," observes paddy farmer Mutyala Ramesh, who has been banking on Sitaphal pesticide for the few months.
Sitaphal seeds have been found to control pests including the cabbage aphid Brevicoryne brassicae, the pulse beetle Bruchus chinensis, the green scale Coccus viridis, the cotton stainer Dysdercus keonigii, the hairy caterpillar Euproctis fraternal, the brown plant hopper Nilaparvata lugens, the saw-toothed grain beetle Oryzeaphilus surinamensis, the diamond-back moth Plutella xylostella, the white-backed plant hopper Sogatella furcifera and the tobacco caterpillar Spodoptera litura.