Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur have developed a biodegradable nanoparticle that can be used as an alternative to chemical-based pesticides and help farmers protect their crops from bacterial and fungal infections.
Termed as biodegradable Carbonoid Metabolite (BioDCM), the nanoparticle can remain active at low concentration and can be as effective as pesticides without having any negative impact on soil and health of consumers. IIT Kanpur claims it acts fast as it is applied in bioactive form and can withstand high temperature.
According to IIT Kanpur, the nanoparticle has been developed in collaboration with C. Kannan and Divya Mishra from ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research, and R Balamurugan and Mou Mandal from the School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad.
Abhay Karandikar, Director IIT Kanpur points out, "as the problems faced by the farmers are multifold, our efforts also have been relentless to enrich the whole ecosystem of farming. Nanoparticles would lessen the worries of crop infection and give a boost to crop yield."
A June 2021 report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that every year farmers across the world lose up to 40% of crops to insects and diseases, resulting in an estimated loss of $290 billion to the global economy.
IIT Kanpur has developed several solutions to boost crop yield and solve many of the problems afflicting Indian agriculture. For instance, in December 2021, the institute launched a soil testing device called Bhu Parikshak that can measure soil health in 90 seconds.
It was developed to solve the problem of time spent on getting solid health tested through labs. Farmers usually have to wait for days to get results from labs.
Use of natural products is growing in organic farming and products that are exported. Given the biodegradable and non-harmful nature of the nanoparticle developed by IIT Kanpur, it can be expected to generate a lot of attention from farmers who want to cut down use of chemicals in farming, especially pesticides.
IIT Kanpur has been quite active in building solutions to solve problems on the ground. At the height of the covid-19 pandemic, the institute developed reusable mask, anti-viral nasal filter and oxygen concentrator. The institute filed 107 intellectual property rights (IPRs) in 2021 taking its total tally of IPRs to 810.