A group of Dhaka University scientists has invented a biopesticide for agricultural use and a couple of bating agents for the tannery industry from a genus of bacteria known as bacillus, raising the hope of reducing dependence on chemical fertilisers.
These inventions can play a vital role in cutting the use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture as well as reducing the dependency of the tannery industry on costly import of chemicals, claimed the scientists and industry insiders.
Arafat Al Mamun, a researcher at Centre for Advance Research in Sciences (CARS) of the university, and member of the team of scientists from DU’s Microbiology Department and the CARS, told UNB that the new biopesticide has been developed from a bacterium, named Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
Led by Prof Mozammel Haque, the research team also includes Prof Dr Shakila Nargis Khan, Asaduzzaman Sishir, Md Nahinur Rahman Akand and Nusrat Khandker.
Mamun said the pesticide was tested on different vegetables, including egg-plants, cabbage and cauliflower, and gave good results. “The main significance of this bio-pesticide is that it can reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture and in the way can help reduce the chemical pollution in the food-chain,” he noted.
He also confirmed about the invention of some enzymatic a bating agents and a de-hairing enzyme from bacterium of the Bacillus genus by the same research team.
Bating agent is used in a great quantity for processing leather in the country, costing no less than Tk 5 billion to the tanners for the import of the traditional chemicals, according to industry insiders.
The other enzyme invented by the team can be used in the de-hairing process and can lead to a reduction of the use of some poisonous chemicals, said Haque.
The enzymes known as ‘proteas enzyme’ and ‘keratinase enzyme’ can also be used in the detergent industry as additives, he added.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), the country used about 49,000 tonnes of chemical pesticides in fiscal 2012-13. The total expenditure for pesticides import is estimated at Tk 20 billion annually.
The use of sodium sulphide and many other chemicals for de-hairing process at the tannery units at Hazaribagh causes a daily discharge of about 21,000 cubic metres of untreated liquid waste to the water of the Buriganga, said Nahinur Rahman Akand, a research assistant at the Enzyme Technology Section of CARS.
He said ‘prototype tests’ of the enzymes was done at the Institute of Leather Engineering and Technology (ILET) laboratory.
“A leading leather and footwear company has used our bating agents and de-hairing enzymes, and the results are very positive,” he added.