MGU takes up joint research to develop smart fungicide for cassava

It is expected to reduce soil, water pollution

The lush green cassava plants on the Mahatma Gandhi University campus here tell the tale of a farming initiative that may be a game changer for tapioca cultivation in central Travancore.

In a significant development, the university is undertaking a joint research initiative with the Siberian Federal University in Russia to develop smart fungicide capsules to help improve yield of tapioca.

The project, spearheaded by MGU Vice Chancellor Sabu Thomas, involves depositing the fungicide capsules in pits dug close to the tapioca plants, which are under different stages of growth. In the preliminary phase, the research focuses on the process of developing a new farming system that will make tuber farming more profitable and minimise soil and water pollution due to fertilizers and pesticides.

“The fungicides are released in a sustainable manner from the biopolymers that are environmental-friendly. Measures are also taken to improve the performance of these formulations, which have lower toxicity than conventional fungicides,” explained Mr. Thomas.

Safe farming

This new generation agro-preparation, according to him, will be a promising solution to safe and sustainable agriculture.

The collaborative project worth ₹9.5 crore, which has entered its fourth year, is being funded under the Mega Grant of Russia.

Alexia Dudev and Nasezhda Strelsova, scientists from Siberia who have been part of the project, said a similar method was being used in potato cultivation in Siberia. Researchers Blessy Joseph and Jeethu Kiran Prakash from the MG University are also part of the initiative.

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