Parit Buntar, Perak, Malaysia — Rice is an important crop in Malaysia, yet the indiscriminate use of pesticides has caused health problems for many farmers. Meanwhile, almost half of them live below the poverty level, causing many to leave the field for other kinds of work. These challenges inspired a group of researchers in Malaysia to find a safer, more sustainable means of pest control that would also boost crop yield, raising farmers’ incomes and encouraging them to stay in this much-needed profession.
At the same time they were doing their field trials, we initiated the Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge, inviting researchers around the world to submit innovative ideas with practical applicability. Of the nearly 500 proposals, one was from these researchers in Malaysia.
Their proposal — “Biopesticides for improved paddy yield” — went on to become a winner. The project, a collaborative effort between the university and the Malaysian Agriculture Department as well as Bio-X Techno, showed how biopesticides can be used to increase the yield of rice crops without the dangerous health effects associated with chemical pesticides.