New Biocontrol Agent Registered to Combat Rice Disease: A Sustainable Milestone for Punjab Agriculture

by Manjari Singh

In a breakthrough development, the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has achieved a significant milestone by registering the biocontrol agent Trichoderma asperellum 2% WP with the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC). This registration marks a crucial step in addressing the persistent threat of ‘foot rot’ or ‘bakane’ disease in basmati rice, a crop of immense economic importance to the region and the nation at large.

Basmati rice, cherished for its distinct aroma and flavor, stands as a cornerstone of Indian agriculture, commanding a substantial share of the global market. However, the increasing cultivation area has brought forth the urgent need for effective disease management strategies, particularly concerning foot rot, caused by the fungus Gibberella fujikuroi (Synonym: Fusarium monoliforme). Notorious for inflicting significant losses upon farmers and jeopardizing the state’s export potential, this disease has long been a cause for concern.

Historically, varieties such as Pusa basmati 1121 and Pusa basmati 1509 have faced moderate to high incidences of foot rot in Punjab, amplifying the urgency for sustainable solutions. Aside from yield reduction, the contamination of affected rice grains with mycotoxins poses grave health risks.

In this context, Trichoderma asperellum emerges as a beacon of hope. As a biocontrol agent, it offers an eco-friendly alternative to conventional chemical pesticides, which often leave behind harmful residues and adverse environmental impacts. The recent approval of its registration during the 455th CIBRC meeting on April 19, 2024, underscores a momentous stride towards sustainable agriculture.

By incorporating Trichoderma into their farming practices, cultivators can now effectively combat bakane disease while upholding environmental safety standards. The treatment of seeds and seedlings with this biocontrol agent not only mitigates the risk of disease but also fosters a more ecologically balanced approach to agriculture.

Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor of PAU, expressed his heartfelt congratulations to the dedicated scientists whose tireless efforts made this achievement possible. Their perseverance and commitment have paved the way for a more sustainable future in agriculture, aligning with PAU’s mission to foster innovation and excellence in agricultural research.

With the availability of Trichoderma asperellum, Punjab’s agricultural landscape is poised for a transformative shift towards sustainability. Reduced reliance on chemical pesticides promises not only healthier crops but also safer rice production for consumers worldwide. As Punjab embraces this cutting-edge solution, it sets a precedent for environmentally conscious agriculture, ushering in a new era of prosperity and resilience for the region’s farmers and beyond.

Manjari Singh

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