Handicrafts to manure, insects find use in myriad products

Handicrafts to manure, insects  find use in myriad products

 Handicrafts made of insect resin, organic manure produced from the insect waste or insect based biopesticides. Sounds interesting, isn’t it?  

Although thousands of insect species have been discovered till now, yet not many know about their uses that could span entire cottage industries, according to Dr Abraham Verghese, director, National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources (NBAIR), which is under the administrative control of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) at Hebbal in Bengaluru.

He was speaking to Deccan Herald on the sidelines of the ‘Insect and Insects Product Exhibition’ organised by ICAR-NBAIR here on Saturday.

The protaetia aurichalcea, for example, is a species of beetle that eats decaying plants and its waste, and can be used as manure in agriculture. The lac insect produces a resin that can be used for making various handicrafts. “In places like Jharkhand the products made of lac is exported. There are a number of niche markets for the products made of it,” said Dr Verghese. In various parts of the world a number of insects are eaten and made into packaged snacks. “Who said startups are only from the software industry and engineers,” he added.

Further, the make-up of a species of worms called ‘waxworms’ is very similar to that of mammals and they could be used, instead of mammals, in testing. Then there is the practice of rearing ‘stick insects’ that is popular in countries like Thailand. Insects like predaceous diving beetle and ‘water striders’ can also be used in aquariums. 
 
Insect based biopesticides

While the production and market for chemical fertilisers is huge, organic pest control mechanism using insects is something that the institute has been promoting. The trigchogramma chilonis, a species of wasp, can be used by farmers as pest control in warm regions that grow sugarcane, groundnuts, cotton and other crops.  The wasp parasitizes the eggs of common pests such as sugarcane borers, cotton bollworms and kills them with no risk to the crop. Another insect species, the common green lacewing (chrysoperla zastrowi sillemi) is a good biological control agent for various pests.

Sumanth Shivalingaiah, an engineer and consultant with Qualcomm, who wants to start an organic farming business, said, “I want to get into full-time organic farming and such bio-pest control mechanisms are definitely important to such plans.”Dr Verghese said that anyone interested will be helped by the institute in terms of know-how support and training. People can also log on to the institute’s website: http://www.nbair.res.in/.


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