A padi farmer's nightmare is made up of bad weather and nasty pests. Droughts aside, a sweet dream would be a genuinely green pesticide – safe for the farmer, the land and for the people who eat the rice grown in those fields. Yields and incomes diminished by pests are part of the padi farming narrative of Perak Tengah. Still, farmers hesitate at the thought of using conventional pesticides.
That's why in 2015, Professor Dr Suzana Yusup and her team of researchers at UTP embarked on a project to test the efficacy of an organic pesticide. It is a collaboration between the Agriculture Department and Bio-X Techno Sdn Bhd, a private company which had formulated a neem-based pesticide.
"On-going field trials are aimed at studying the effect of a bio-pesticide on crop yield," says Dr Suzana, a biomass study pioneer and lecturer at UTP's Chemical Engineering Department. "Bio-pesticides will also help farmers move away from toxic pesticides and towards more sustainable practices."