KAKAWATE LEAF: AN EFFECTIVE PESTICIDE

Worms, bugs and other rice pest are an enigma to many farmers as these are threats to rice production.

To most farmers, commercial insecticides and pesticides are the most effective and readily available pest controls. What they don’t realize is these cost them added expenses not to mention the bad effects of these chemicals to health and environment.

Dr. Alfredo R. Rabena, head of the Research and Development Office of the University of Northern Philippines in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, has discovered a solution. He found that the leaves of kakawate tree or Mexican Lilac (Gliricidia sepium) contains coumarins, an effective botanopesticide.

To prepare the solution, chop the kakawate leaves and let these soak overnight to extract coumarins. Using a strainer, separate the leaves from the solution.

Spray the solution to the ricefields. The best time to apply it is from eight o’clock to nine o’clock in the morning and from five o’clock to six o’clock in the afternoon as worms and pests are coming out from leaves at these times. So the solution would be more effective to use. If applied early, it wouldn’t be that effective as pests are still hibernating. And if used when the sun’s heat is too hot, it wouldn’t be that effective also as pest would hide.

Since kakawate is a legume, says Rabena,its leaves are rich in nitrogen, an important soil nutrient. Hence, the discarded leaves can be applied to the field as an organic fertilizer. He also recommends farmers to put several leafy branches of kakawate tree in between rice plants two days after planting to prevent pests from attacking the crop.

To prove this research finding, Rabena and Flora Cely Rodilias did a demonstration in Naglaoa-an, Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur as well as in Vigan City and Lidlidda, Ilocos Sur where the kakawate leaves botanopesticide effectively eliminated rice weevils, rice bugs, and worms in ricefields.

To make the chopping of leaves easier, Rabena and Dr. Manuel Bajet Jr. designed a chopper. Called Dual Power Operated Foliage Chopper, the device can either be operated electronically or manually as it has a pedal. It costs P21, 000 and there are units at the University.

Other Uses of Kakawate Leaves

Coumarins in kakawate leaves are also effective termites and bed bugs neutralizer.

Rabena presented these finding through his paper “The Isolation, Characterization and Identification of Active Botano-Chemicals of Kakawate Leaves against Termites” that he presented during the 5th International Congress of Plant Molecular Biology in Singapore in 1997.

His study was also included in the book “The International Society of Plant Molecular Biology” published by the National University of Singapore and Institute of Molecular Agrobiology.

Kakawate leaves are also effective anti-fungus. It can cure Tricophyton Metagrophytes that causes skin diseases like eczema. Crumple several leaves and apply to affected area of the skin for a salicylic acid-like effect.

This year, Rabena and Dr. Nelia Aman, and Engr. Franklin Amistad have discovered that the ash of kakawate can be a good concrete mixture for ceramics. Its charcoal is a good moisture and odor absorbent, too.

Kakawate leaves can be used also to deworm pigs. Just have the swine eat ample leaves and the parasites wouldn’t live long.

If these uses are not enough, then remember that kakawate flowers can be made into salad or into dinengdeng, a delicious Ilokano veggie dish.

So farmers, why don’t you plant kakawate this rainy season? So that next year, you will have a good source of botanopesticide, termites and bed bugs neutralizer, and anti-fungus. (Mancielito S. Tacadena)

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