Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge Vol. 16 (2), April 2017, pp. 333-340
Indian Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK) on termites: Eco-friendly approaches to sustainable management Mahapatro GK*, Debajyoti C & Gautam RD Division of Entomology, ICAR - Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi-110012, India E- mail: [email protected]
Received 08 February 2016, revised 27 June 2016 Despite playing significant role as agricultural pests, termites attracted less attention of researchers in India; on both fronts - traditional and frontier techniques. Present paper is an attempt to collect and compile Indian Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK) from various sources on termite management aspects in light of various key-components (cultural, physical, mechanical, biological, etc.) of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) under the aegis of Integrated Crop Management (ICM). We undertook a comprehensive review of farmers’ ITK across India especially in seventeen states in detail, in an effort to outline the underlying principles for termite management. This review confirmed existence of affluent knowledge of local inhabitants/aborigines on termite and their management. Various ITK in termite control is used across India. Review analysis revealed that in some places of India, termites are being used as indicator of various environmental aspects, viz. anticipated rainfall, soil fertility, etc., soil of termite mounds were reported to be used in low risk farming strategies. Use of locally available plants for termite control was a common practice in Indian subcontinent since ages. No doubt ITK have strong potential, but are yet unexplored because of their limitation in scientific scrutiny and authenticity. Even though Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) included many such farmers’ ITK, lack of critical scientific validation has limited their use in wider scale. Keywords: Agriculture, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Indigenous Traditional/Technical knowledge (ITK), Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Integrated Crop Management (ICM). IPC Int. Cl.8: A01, A01P 17/00, A01N
Indigenous traditional knowledge (ITK) is the assemblage of awareness and understanding of various facts which people have developed over a large span of time and continue to expand it. Since inception of agricultural practices, there has been a constant tussle between mankind and insects for better yield of crops. Through trial-and-error, farmers have developed many physical and cultural practices to protect crops from various pests and diseases. Transcription and transmission of such age-old knowledge from generation to generation is most commonly found in the areas with undeveloped background. ITK include various religious tradition, faith and taboos, communication styles, music, knowledge on ecology and climate and many other components such as insect pest (here termites). The wood of three world famous deities, eg. Lord Jagannath, Mata Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are carved out of seasoned neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.) wood on each Navakalebar occasion (incarnation in each 12 yrs) _________ *Corresponding author
in Sridham Puri (Odisha). In India use of various botanicals extracted from variety of indigenous plants is being in practice since yore. Many of our ancient heritage literature script such examples, i.e., Varaha Mihir (505-487 AD) mentioned use of roots of Vasika (Adhathoda vasica Nees) and leaves of Atimuktaka [Hiptage benghalensis (L.) Kurz.] for seed treatments against possible attack of insects and worms. Likewise, many such examples are found in our olden and modern society which exhibit evidence of usage of ITK against termite in agricultural field. Under patronage of ICAR, a Nationwide Mission Mode project was conceived on collection, documentation and validation of ITKs under NATP which was a milestone in this aspect1. The documentation of traditional knowledge available in our ancient texts was undertaken by CSIR-NISCAIR, in the form of a computerized database, Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). Various NGOs like MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF, Chennai), National Innovation Foundation (NIF, Ahmedabad) under the Department of Science
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and Technology, Govt. of India are also augmenting in this noble effort. ITKs on termite management could draw attention of scientific community recently, yet remained as lesser explored field. Any attempts to manage termites need careful consideration of their benefits against the loss to the ecosystem and local communities. Scanty documentation is available on traditional knowledge about termites, mostly focusing the appetizing, medicinal and ethno-entomological aspects2-7. The beneficial roles of termites in the ecosystem include decomposition and tunneling, which loosen and aerate the soil and thus help reclaim and compacted and encrusted soils8. Termites are being used as important human diet in many states of India and around the world, where the population is mostly dominated by tribes. Termites are rich in protein, thus can be useful to pregnant women and undernourished children. Food and medicinal values of termites are fully utilized by tribal folks of various groups in North and South India, namely, in the states of Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, etc.7. Odontotermes formosanus Shiraki is reported to be used for food purpose in rural and tribal areas in India9. However, all species are not consumed by human. Besides supplementary source of protein it also helps in income to the locals. At the same time, hunt for termite in this purpose evidently helps to reduce the population of this pest in the concerned areas. Although termites cause harm to crops but some farmers avoid destroying the mounds. Termite mounds often offer shelter to venomous snakes, the enemies of rats, thus a pest nest is sustainably used to eradicate another almost equally harmful pest by pure biological method1. Many farmers grow almond in their home gardens. They are aware that the upper soft portion of almond fruit is good for the termites and they cannot eat the inner hard portion beneath which the seeds are present. The farmers keep the almond fruits near the termite mound and after removal of soft portion by the termites they collect it for further processing. The farmers of forest areas choose new land for cultivation by using different methods and indicators. By observing the height of termite mound, the farmers select the land for tuber and seed crops. According to some farmers of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, appearance of termite is a forecast of rain and good season10. It is, therefore, important to identify and evaluate both beneficial and harmful aspects of termites while designing and implementing suitable management strategies.
Nonetheless, scientific validation and sustainable application of ITK on termite management in light of modern technology is the challenge of the present scientific era. To meet this challenge, a strong and information-rich data bank is required to be built. Present research communication aims on validation of the scientific rationale of ITK practices being adapted across India; as well to combat the termite problem in various agro-ecosystems. With respect to natural resource-richness and existing ITK, India has a clear-cut competitive advantage globally. No doubt, the benefits of S&T should be handed over to the rural poor. World Summit on Sustainable Development held at Johannesburg in South Africa in 2002 has strongly advocated the use of local ITKs in crop husbandry practices. Most of the ITKs practiced in different part of country are remaining obscure, and we should aim at using them for relevant pest-management strategies in relation to termites. Procedure of issue approach Data collection and compilation under this study included assemblage of data from various sources, viz. digital library and database of ICAR1, online portal of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University: TNAU AGRITECH PORTAL11, TKDL, library references, limited face-to-face interactions, seminars/symposia/ conferences/workshops, focus group interviews, questionnaire based response from farmers, direct field observations and internet browsing. Major chunk of data have been tabulated as Table 1. During this study spanning 2011-2016, our major focus was on scientific documentation of evidences of using ITKs in termite management from various study places in far flung localities of India. As a part of the program, a huge photographic documentation was performed, which formed a strong baseline of our data. A glimpse of that effort is presented in Figs. 1-7. In Fig. 1 Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f. is planted in the field around mounds to crosscheck the ITK claim of its anti-termite (repellency) property. However, we verified this fact at IARI farmland, for three years. Odontontotermes termites did not abandon the termitaria, as claimed by one ITK in Chhattisgarh. The raised platform for keeping harvested wheat plants temporarily in the field is shown Fig. 2. In Fig. 3 the use of chlorpyriphos through irrigation is depicted which is commonly seen and has been widely mentioned as a control practice in many parts of the country. It is a crude method of termite control, must be discouraged from environmental point of view.
MAHAPATRO et al.: INDIGENOUS TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE ON TERMITE MANAGEMENT
Table 1 - Summary sheet for some relevant ITK in termite management practiced in India Type of control
Detail of ITK method adopted
States of India
Physical/ Mechanical control
Cow dung cakes show effective result in termite control when placed inside termitaria. In nursery, termite and ant are controlled using cow dung ash. A common practice of termite control is smoking termitaria to suffocate and kill the colony. A few farmers use lighting of fire after queen removal in order to destroy colony. Alates (winged forms) are collected by poultry farmers during swarming of termites using light trap in order to use them as seasonal healthy poultry feed12.
Various parts of eastern India, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat, Chhatisgarh
Botanical – phyto-products
Calotropis sp., commonly known as Aak is kept in bunches (10-15 kg, slightly meshed and trampled) at the entry point of water channels to the farmers’ field and this practice is reported to be adopted by 60- 65 % of farmers. In order to overcome termite damage, many farmers are seen to spray a solution of leaves of Arusha (Adhatoda vasica) on crops. About 5 kg each of Calotropis and Kheemp (Leptadenia pyrotechnica) twigs are cut into small pieces and put in an earthen pot or other container. About 1 kg of salt and 10 L of urine of either human or cattle are added to it. The container is closed air-tight, and kept in manure pit for 15–20 days. The suspension is filtered through cotton cloth and filtrate is applied as an insecticide along with irrigation water for termite control. Boiled roots of Nagali (Eleusine coracana) and leaves of Nafatiya (Ipomoea fistulosa) are filtered after cooling and the extract is sprayed on the termite affected crops, sometimes on the base of stems of affected plants. Leaves of Calotropis sp. is decomposed in water (20 kg leaves/150 L) for fifteen days and the decomposed water is mixed with irrigation water which controls termite in wheat. Tobacco debris (sticks and rootlets) owing to their nicotinic content keep termite away from field, when they are incorporated in the soil by farmers. Farmers grow castor in termite infested fields. This is believed to decrease termites appreciably in the next year. Farmers protect melon creepers by using mixture of tobacco, cow urine, buttermilk and neem leaves when they are one and half month old. After 20-25 days of sowing the filtered solution of buttermilk, neem leaves and cow urine is sprayed over the crop with twenty liters of water and some soap. Water soaked in Calotropis gigantea (L.) W.T. Aiton. for at least 24 hrs shows effectiveness against termite in field. Post harvest straws of pearl millet (locally called Khala) are used as fodder. In order to avoid termite attack on these straws, infested straws are washed with shovel and the floor is layered with Euphorbia tirucalli. The smell of the plant sap keep termite away. This plant is used for controlling termites in standing crops too. Crushed plants are kept in irrigation channel and the water passing through the plants helps in controlling termites in wheat at the most susceptible stage, i.e., at third irrigation. Green cut plants of sorghum are placed in the water channel by farmers and the passing water over the plants help in reducing termite attack. One moth to 40 days old sorghum contains HCN which cast toxic effect on termite. In order to prevent termite attack on coconut seedling, Aloe vera suckers are planted in the pits of coconut plantation. Application of mixture of one liter of Cactus milk with 200 L of water on the termite affected plants and using the same solution for drenching, seed treatment and dipping of grafts before planting result in reduction of termite attack in both field and horticultural plants. Treatment of wooden works and tree trunks with crude cashew nut shell liquid shows resistance against termite. In order to keep termite away, Tephrosia (varnacular name: Kolinchi) and Chithratha are grown at the time of planting coconut seedlings. Neem cake is kept in sacks and the same is immersed in irrigation channel to control termite15. Mixture of Asafetida with irrigation water in channel controls termite damage and usage of Asafetida effectively reduces termite attack in chilies. Application of Calotropis leaf extract (immersed in water for 2 days) diluted with water is found to be a cost effective effort to prevent termite attack. Calotropis plant material (about 8-10 kg) soaked in water for 24 hrs is processed, boiled and after filtering, the liquid is used for termite prevention in infested soil. Soil amended with safflower seed cake records less termite damage. Dipping of sugarcane setts in 15 % Calotropis leaf extract and sprinkling of 2 % extract in furrows prior planting of the setts help in controlling termite attack. Leaves of Vitex negundo L. are utilized in pits of fruit trees which helps in termite control in sapling stage. Farmers use neem and Karanj for termite prevention. Powder of neem and Karanj are mixed with soil at the time of field preparation before sowing. Paddy fields infested with termite and other soil borne insects are broadcasted with leaves and fruits of Ashan (Terminalia elliptica Willd.) and these prove to be toxic, bitter and acrid to insect pests, which helps in controlling their population. Maximum number of farmers adopted this age old practice. In the holy city Varanasi, termite resistant wood was used to build temple of wooden frames. About 750 ml of Akanda (Calotropis gigantea) milk is taken and poured drop by drop at the irrigation source in wheat for termite prevention. Spray of neem oil 3 % mixed with kerosene on colonies of Microtermes obesi Holmgren killed them instantly21. Application of alcoholic extract of Argemone mexicana leaves is found to inhibit growth of immature stages of termite. Leaf extract (5 %) of Aloe barbadensis, Euphorbia truncalli or Lippia alba, leaf/berry extract of Melia azedarach or Ocimum basilicum are found effective in control of termite.
Rajasthan, Gujarat (Surendranagar, Kutch, Vadodara, Palol Kheda, Banaskantha), Maharashtra (Nandubar), Kerala (Nedumanga), Odisha, Tamil Nadu (Dindigul), Karnataka, Pondichery, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand (East Singbhum), Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh
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Table 1 - Summary sheet for some relevant ITK in termite management practiced in India —(Contd.) Type of control Waste products, cultural practice, ICM
Non chemical control
Waste utilization and Physical/ mechanical control
Organics and botanical
Detail of ITK method adopted At the time of field preparation, cow dung ash is applied in field, which is found to be effective in controlling termites. Experimental application of oil waste from ONGC oil wells to the bamboo strips used for supporting saplings by the farm attendants resulted in no termite attack in the kitchen garden. Post harvest wastes of tobacco residues are used by farmers for soil application which help in termite management. In coconut field, the tree trunk is painted with waste engine oil upto 40 cm height from the bottom in order to keep termite away in field. Usage of washing powder by the farmers is reported to be useful and economic anti termite measure in fruit plants. Mixture of salt and ash in the ground is useful for protecting straws of Jowar and Bajra from termite. An age old practice (since 304 yrs) of usage of kerosene oil (2.5 L/ acre) at the time of irrigation in termite affected paddy field is found as pesticidal against termite, is adopted by 15-20 % of the village farmers. Cashew stem borer and termite attack on cashew trunk were managed by application of coal tar and kerosene (2:1 ratio). People were reported to use timbers of Mahua for construction as the beams of this tree species are very hard and suffer less due to termite damage. Using country made plough made of neem by the farmers resulted in repelling of insects and it is found effective in protection of rice. Human or sheep hairs repel white grubs and termites. Several earthen pots are filled with empty maize cobs after making holes of 1 cm diameter all around and they are buried under soil in different places. Termites colonized in such pots and after 3-4 weeks the pots are destroyed after digging out of soil. In some places farmers are seen to dig small pits and fill them with cattle dung. After a few days if termites are found in such pits, they are destroyed by kerosene spray. Sugarcane field soil is mixed with horse dropping @ 100 gm/ha by ploughing and the field is left for a few days. Result showed 70 % reduction of termite infestation and cost: benefit of this practice was found approximately 1:10. Chickpea seeds are treated with Hing (Fernulla narthex) pre sowing in dose as per 80-100 gm of Hing for 1 quintal seeds. Post treated seeds are dried and sown which shows effective repellence for 45 days after sawing. Cactus (Euphorbia neriifolia) milk mixed with of water (100 ml in 1 L) is used for seed treatment of cereals, legumes and cotton and post treated seeds are dried in dark for 8 hrs, which now become protected from the attack of larvae of stem borer, termites and other pests. Application of solution of Thuar (Euphorbia nerifolia) milk (1 L of Thuar milk in 200 L. of water) near the root region of the newly planted crops acts as anti termite and is believed to helps plant to grow faster. In Jodhpur city of Rajasthan, the buildings are painted with white and blue (lime+copper sulphate) in order to prevent termite attack on wall and interior. During summer, the useless grass and roots of plants are gathered and burnt in the field which helps in control of termite. Residues after harvest are collected and incorporated in soil in order to control termite. Sheep hair, wood ash of kiln ash is also used to the tree base by farmers to reduce termite attack. Common salt tied in the cloth bag kept in irrigation channel shows termite preventive measure. Termite mound, dug up to some depth is treated with hot water after pouring salt, lemon juice and castor cake in it. In Jujube plantation, castor oil is used for termite control. Kerosene oil is spread on orchard trees for preventing termites. Application of lime in the soil prevents termite attack in seedlings of palm trees and application of lime paste on the palm also checks the termite attack. Application of salt and ash also prove good in termite prevention. Small heaps of 20 kg undecomposed farmyard manure or fresh cow dung per 0.02 ha area show controls against termite attack. Application of 2.5 kg lime with 5 kg salt to the soil of sugarcane field shows good controlling measure against termite resulting 60-70% saving of plants in field. Application of 2.5 L of kerosene oil at the time of irrigation is practiced by farmers for controlling termite. In Kandhamal district of Odisha, tribal farmers reported the use of leaves of turmeric and Sal (Shorea robusta C. F. Gaertn.) were found good for termite control22. In order to prevent termite attack on Aangali, a special arrangement of bundles of pearl millet and sorghum straws which is structurally specialized to prevent percolation of rain water; ash and salt are mixed and layered in different layers on the storage place before arrangement of fodder. Different layers of the fodder are sometimes dusted with salt in the stock. The base of the indigenous grain storage structure, locally known as Kothi is made of cement in order to avert termite and other pest attack10. Flooding in field helps in termite population reduction by disturbing their life cycle and this process attains 98 % of success rate and 65 % of the farmers are found following this practice.
States of India Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu (Theni district) Haryana, Gujarat (Rajkot), Uttar Pradesh
Rajasthan, Kerala, Jharkhand (Ranchi) Rajasthan, Jharkhand (Deoghar)
Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamilnadu (Pudukottai).
Gujarat (Mahesana, Banaskantha, Rajkot), Andaman and Nicobar, Uttar Pradesh (Shahjahanpur, Gonda)
Gujarat (Bhavnagar), Rajasthan
MAHAPATRO et al.: INDIGENOUS TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE ON TERMITE MANAGEMENT
Table 1 - Summary sheet for some relevant ITK in termite management practiced in India —(Contd.) Type of control Conservation/ biological control
Intercropping/ habitatmanipulation IPM within ICM Water management – ICM
Detail of ITK method adopted In Goa, the traditional practice of plastering trees, specially mango, cashew and coconut with black mud from salt pans, locally called ‘agaracho chikhol’ and sprinkling of jaggery around the tree by farmers in order to attract large black ants, the natural enemy of termite, reduce termite attack. Scaly Ant Eater (Manis sp.) is a common predator of ants and termites. Venomous snakes are natural enemy of field rats which take shelter in termitaria. Wild bear pose threat to the crops as they frequent field with termataria as termites are preferred food for them. After eating termite, the crop is attacked by wild bare and in order to avoid this, local people prefer to destroy mounds. Plantation of Curcuma aromatica Salisb. in coconut basin offers prevention of termite colonization and at the same time results in better utilization of space. In each coconut basin 5-6 rhizomes are required to be planted. This practice is found to be followed by 40 % of the farmers in Koipuram, Ezhumatoor and Puramattom blocks in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. Wood ash is applied since long resulting enhancement in plant health and resistance against insect pests in general. Presence of sufficient amount of ground water in any land is believed to be depicted by occurrence of Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) Wight & Arn. and/or termitaria.
States of India Goa, Chhattisgarh (Bagbahera)
In Fig. 4 mulch in between the planted wheat rows which keep the attention of termite diverted from main crop - all are excellent examples of management of termites in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. Fig. 5 shows ant-colonization in the crop field, which is a brilliant method of natural biological control. In Fig. 6, post-irrigation soil crust breaking deters termite activity. Fig. 7 shows smoking termitarium which kills termites through suffocation. In light of the collected data and survey sheets, facts were scrutinized scientifically and an environmentally sustainable termite control strategy is envisaged as promised to the scientific world.
Fig. 1- Aloe vera plantation for the control of termites; Fig. 2- The raised platform for keeping harvested wheat plants temporarily in the field; Fig. 3- Use of chlorpyriphos through irrigation; Fig. 4- Mulches in between the planted row; Fig. 5- Ant-nest in crop field; Fig. 6- Crevices and creaks in the field serve as anti termite measure. Fig. 7- Fire in termatarium - excellent process of termite management by smoking leading to suffocation of termites.
ITKs on termite management: ethnic comprehension concerning bio-safety India is bestowed with most diversified agro-climatic zones across the country. Crop diversity vis-a-vis pest, especially termite diversity also exhibits higher magnitude in the country. Occurrence, population density, termite life cycle and host specificity etc. presents a mammoth challenge to the scientific community for formulating environmentally sustainable management method. Transfer of technology from laboratory to the farmers’ field also requires time and opportunity. This gap presented the platform for ITK to take over the stage as the easiest and earliest available remedy to tackle the termite problem. Since the beginning of agriculture, ITK has its own importance besides the other methods of pest control. The traditional knowledge and practices developed by various aborigines as a part of their socio-economic culture have made a strong
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platform for the management of termite problems depending on the nature and natural perceptions. In the present age of technology, indiscriminate usage of various pesticides and other synthetic materials are casting poisonous effects on the environment leading to hazards of various types. As a demand of the time, scientific validation of ITK are now being realized and encouraged. It is evident from summary sheet (Table 1) that, Indian farmers adopted various indigenous methods to control termites. From the findings regarding methodologies being adapted for controlling termites, it was observed that the termites are controlled in many villages by adapting mostly traditional practices. This study has proved some basic information about farmer’s knowledge of the management of the termites that could aid the development and encouraging sustainable termite control measure in agriculture. These aboriginal methods must be documented and endorsed to ease connection between farming and scientific community on focused termite issues. The farmers had attempted a number of control methods; the majority of which they claimed was effective. However, knowledge and skills are most important in termite management. Expertise is required to make farmers aware on appropriate termite control methods and to promote the legacy of such information from generation to generation among the farmers. Different locally evolved management methods reported by farmers are needed to be confirmed, standardized and promoted with other IPM measures with the aim of reducing application of chemical pesticides in agriculture. Scientific validation of ITKs vis-a-vis tactful management of termites International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) promotes organic farming emphasizing on local resources, long run soil improvement and pollution abatement by non-chemical methods. Although some of farmers’ ITKs are parts of good agricultural practices (GAP), the lack of critical scientific scrutiny has limited their wider use. A few explanations with relevant examples will make the matter more comprehensible. Our data anthology showed similarity and diversity of using ITK for termite problem in different states and climatic zones of this nation. In the far northern west Himalayan region, at the hilly region of Rajouri, cow dung is used against termites and it is reported effective. Farmers of Haryana showed varied interests of using ITK against termites.
Detergent soap powder is used at fruit orchard which proves not only easily available, but also a good economic way to manage termite problem compared to application of pesticides. Crops in Rajasthan, being grown in mostly arid and semi-arid agro-climate, always suffer from massive termite attack. Farmers here are seen to use various methods including using locally available medicinal herbs with irrigation water. Usage of human and animal urine along with botanicals was also found to be practiced here. Usage of cow dung ash was found effective in Gujarat12. Coconut in Kerala was found to be affected by termite in various stages. In southern India, besides using botanicals, repellent crops are also used to save cultivated crop, which supported the economy of farmer to some extent. Hundreds of ITK methods were documented from coconut cultivation practice in Kerala13; of which some are validated by subsequent scientific studies and are accepted by farmers14. In Tamil Nadu some mechanical methods are also seen to be adopted, viz. smoking termitaria, painting the tree trunk with waste engine oil, etc. Using neem cake with irrigation channel proves a good measure here to combat termites15. In Andaman lime is used in soil to keep termite away. In the east central part of the country mostly application of botanicals were practiced along with some typical local techniques using oils, animal dung, etc., viz. application of horse dropping in soil in Jharkhand, application of coal-tar and kerosene in tree trunk in Odisha16. Flooding in field helped farmers to keep away termites in Jharkhand. In northern plain of India, farmers of Uttar Pradesh are reported to use varying types of ITK including using kerosene with irrigation water17. Use of botanicals in rice cultivation as anti-termite measure is reported from far North eastern part of India, which depicts the spread of ITK throughout the country. ITK is successfully used in crop-specific ways and is authenticated by scientific view also. In Rice cultivation attack of termite is found to be common problem in upland. Farmers are seen to use salt, botanicals and animal waste to overcome the problem16. Use of phyto-based and other non-chemical ITK in termite management: marvelous examples of green pest management Many plant species have been used by farmers across Indian subcontinent to control termites. Among them, frequently mentioned plant species are: whole plant of Aak (Calotropis spp.), leaves of Arusha (Adhatoda vasica Nees), roots of Nagali (Eleusine coracana Gaertn.), leaves of Nafatiya
MAHAPATRO et al.: INDIGENOUS TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE ON TERMITE MANAGEMENT
(Ipomoea fistulosa Mart. ex Choisy.), mahua timber, tobacco sticks and rootlets, Cactus (Euphorbia neriifolia L.) latex/milk, neem, Karanj, Kheemp [Leptadenia pyrotechnica (Forssk.) Decne.], Kharsadi (Euphorbia tirucalli L.), Asafoetida (Hing) (Fernulla narthex Boiss.); Argemone mexicana L., Aloe barbadensis Mill., Lippia alba (Mill.) N.E.Br. ex Britton & P.Wilson., Maha neem (Melia azedarach Blanco), Tulsi (Ocimum basilicum L.), Cassia siamea Lam., Castor (Ricinus communis L.) seeds, etc. The limitation of phyto-products is that farmers’ recipes vary widely. The mechanism by which these brews reduce termite attack is yet to be revealed. Owing to rapid breakdown of most plant materials in soil they do not ensure longer solution against termite problem18. In addition the environmental and human hazards due to them are also unknown. Therefore, these materials may be used with extreme care. Précised toxicological safety and environmental safety are required for their application. A venerating example of application of ITK against termite damage is reported from Kerala, India. In Thrissur district of this coastal state, marvelous antique wooden carvings and timber-in-service at Vadakkumnathan temple were under severe termite attack. This problem was confronted with the help of admixture of locally available plant-based products and oils (total eight ingredients), thus, obtaining good result to combat termite attack. Application of this traditional knowledge based termite management fetched the temple prestigious UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation for 2015 (Times of India, TNN, September, 15, 2015). Water containing decomposed fish, tobacco, salt and brackish water worked better termite repellant in India. Country wide spectrum of ITK and their application in field was validated by many scientific attempts a glimpse of which has been presented above. In light of this, it can be strongly mentioned that, these skills, if cultured and modified with the help of modern science, may reduce the load of heavy usage of pesticide and other hazardous anti-termite chemicals in a great extent. Farmers follow different methods of destroying the termite colony. These include digging the nest and removing the queen; burning wood, grass, or cow dung; using ash, pouring hot water, or indigenous plant extractives. Even after advising for destruction colonies, the success is limited owing to lack of knowledge on termite biology, complicated construction and labour requirements. This practice targets mainly the matured colonies of mound building
species. The mound building species remain subterranean for a few years as a result of which, even after killing of matured colonies, the immature ones occupy the area18. In some cases, the sacred belief in farmers regarding termitaria abstain them to destroy it. Capturing queen (dequeening) on the other hand helps in great extent to destroy a termite colony. Many urban people use insecticides for the control of termite. The wise people call the rural workers from nearby villages and instruct them to destroy the termite mound, the root cause of this problem. Protein or sugar-based products and animal waste in termite management The protein-based baits resulted in greater ant nesting near maize plants and reduction in termite damage18. Indian farmers use salt, lime to contain termites in various situations. Cow dung and urine have been used for termite control by farmers in India and elsewhere abroad19. Most of the Indian villagers smear cow dung on walls and floors of their cottage to protect them from ant and termite attack. Sometimes cow dung fresh are put hither and thither on termite-prone fields, to allure them to those sites, which can later be destroyed suitably. Trick agri-practices to tackle termite: Intercropping, weeding and tillage practices According to farmers in parts of South India, planting of turmeric (Curcuma sp.) in coconut basins and mango orchards helps in termite reduction. Some farmers believe in the predatory role of ants in maize intercropped with food legumes. However, the impact of intercropping on termite damage depended largely on the legume species in the intercrop. Tillage and weeding cast negative effect on termite activity owing to disruption of their feeding areas, alternation of soil environment and food resources as well as exposure to predators18. However, effect of weeding on termite population is in conflict. This highlights the need for site-specific studies and recommendations. This knowledge seems to be of recent origin, but some farmers supported this view. At IARI farms, we observed the effect of zero-tillage, cropping pattern and concept of push-pull theory in termite management, and reported promising results with microbial pesticides, and garlic based products20. Conclusion In the present era of advancement of science, bio-safety and environmental hazards are the burning
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issues of concern; besides food security and crop safety also claim equivalent attention. As a result of use of indiscriminate pesticide and their incorporation in the soil and groundwater contamination, bio-magnification of various deadly pesticides and heavy metals through incorporation in food chain are pushing humankind towards great risk of thriving. In this juncture, policy preparation on sustainable management of pest is the demand of the time. At this situation traditional knowledge on pest control find their way to step forward. Being evolved in the age-old time, when there was no possibility of any sort of harmful effect of technology on environment, ITKs are completely safe for human. Despite holding immense potential, such ITKs are nowadays in dark and on the verge of extinction because of their limitation within the communities of far flung remote areas of our country lacking way of exploration. This gives challenge to the present situation to recall the traditional techniques of pest management retrieve the fade information from various available sources and validate them scientifically and their subsequent implementation as per requirement. Present study on ITKs related to termite control is aimed at collecting and collating information from various sources and justifying their scientific rationale. This could justify the significance of this traditional knowledge on termite management, where absolutely no or least environmental hazard is involved with better promise of a healthy and safe crop yield. Acknowledgement Authors are thankful to the funding agency ICAR for the sanctioned National Fellow Project. "Environmentally Sustainable Termite Control: Integrative and Inclusive Approach of Frontier and Indigenous Technologies." Logistic supports provided by Director, IARI (New Delhi) are gratefully acknowledged. References 1 Inventory of Indigenous Technical Knowledge in Agriculture: Mission Unit, (Division of Agricultural Extension, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi-110012), Documents 1-5. 2 Solavan A, Paulmurugam R & Wilsanand V, Effect of subterranean termites used in the South Indian folk medicine, Indian J Tradit Knowle, 5 (3) (2006) 576-579. 3 Paul D & Dey S, Nutrient content of sexual and worker forms of the subterranean termite, Reticulitermes sp., Indian J Tradit Knowle, 10 (3) (2011) 505–507. 4 Gahukar GT, Entomophagy can support rural livelihood in India, Curr Sci, 103 (1) (2012) 10.
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