In the agricultural world today, we are faced with the challenges of satisfying consumer needs, taking care of human health and environmental safety – all at the same time. Amongst these three, satisfying consumers need has been the priority of farmers, hence we feed the world.
However, because of the ever increasing population, farmers are using strategies that are effective and prompt, such as the use of inorganic substances, to create an equilibrum between the population and food demand. Over time, prolonged use of these chemical plant protection products can have an adverse effect on human health and the environment.
A good example is one of the vital spice in Nigeria – pepper. It is cultivated principally in south western and northern part of the country. Nigeria accounts for about 50% of African production making it the largest producer of pepper in tropical Africa. It is no longer news that pepper provides nutritional and financial benefits to local farmers, enhances food palatability and is also rich in vitamins.
Despite the high demand and consumption of pepper, it is greatly subjected to a lot of insect pest and diseases. We have a lot of strategies designed to manage the effect of these pest and disease, but these strategies are mostly the use of chemicals. As good and effective as these approaches are, research have shown that they can be hazardous to human health and the environment.
Since these strategies pose as threat, it made me think that there could be better ways or approaches to mitigate for these pest and diseases, meet food demand, take care of human health and the environment. Sometimes in 2018, I attended a 4-day workshop organized by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology titled “Application of molecular techniques in the study of bacteria associated with crops’’. This broadened my horizon on the use of bio-inoculants and antagonistic organisms. This propelled my initiative to carry out my M.Sc research on this topic which could possibly extend to Phd.
Bio-inoculants play an important role in enhancing plant growth through a wide variety of mechanisms. The mode of action that promotes plant growth includes abiotic stress tolerance in plants, nutrient fixation for easy uptake by plants, plant growth regulators, production of volatile organic compounds etc.
Microbial antagonists are micro organisms that inhibit the growth of other organisms in the same ecosystem and are used in the management of pests and diseases.
I would be making use of bio-inoculant (Bradyrhyzobium) and antagonist(Trichoderma sp) to control major diseases of pepper. A total of 4 treatments would be used, namely
- Trichoderma sp
- Combination of both.
- A synthetic fungicide as a control treatment
After planting on the field, major diseases of pepper would be introduced artificially into the plant, then after few weeks, these treatments will be sprayed on the plants to control the disease that was introduced.
Since its economical and eco friendly, farmers would benefit from it and it would increase plant growth and development.
Consumers would benefit from this because the treatments used would have no adverse effect to their health
Industries that makes use of pepper will also benefit from this because there will be increase in its availability and if these pests and diseases are controlled on the field, it would increase their shelf life.
In conclusion, I believe that by attending this year’s Next generation meeting, my Knowledge on crop protection would be greatly increased and this will help in my further research studies.
Aina Oluwaseyi Oluwafunmi, Nigeria