Pesticide from pepper

Pepper is universally known as one of the important spices used almost all over the globe. In botanical nomenclature it is called Piper nigram, belonging to Piperaceae botanical family.

The plant is basically a creeper but after a few years of its growth its roots branches off to support the entire creeper. Hence unlike other creepers, it does not grow on fence of other plants. The main stem of oldest plant grows upto a diameter of 1.5 cms or so. The plant is propagated by cutting method i.e. by planting a portion of stem below some selected trees like mango, jackfruit, ‘ashew, aracanut etc. Initially it grows on the above plants but later its roots grow to create its own support. Leaves are identical in shape to its cousin the beetle leaves. It gives two types of flowers riale and female, hence fruits can only arrive after proper pollination either by bees or butterfly or by wind hence plantation is planned accordingly according to direction of the wind. The plan can growth upto 10 meters high but for commercial cultivation more than 4 metres is not allowed. Fruits appear 3 to 4 year after planation and it continues to give fruit 3 to 4 years thereafter. After it stop giving fruits new plants are planted felling the old ones. Fruit dried and sold as pepper or black pepper.

Pepper fruit yiekds alkaloids such as piperitine, piperine, chavicine and piperline, acids such as piperincic acid, isopiperinic acid, chavicinic acid and isochavicinc acid, besides of course fatty alcohols, essential oil and sesquiterpene. Leaves yield essential oil.

Besides being used as spices, it is also used for treating various diseases and disorders as part of folklore treatment. It is also considered as part of various home remedies. These are all well known and popular for which the plant is grown commercially.

What is not commonly practiced is the application of pepper as a pesticide. It is wrong to say that it is not bein g used at all since farmers in pepper growing areas do go for this application but it has not been documented nor applied organised manner. Seed or fruit has capacity to repel or even kill agricultural pests. The extract in liquid form be sprayed to get desired result. It is useful for various crops including ornamental trees and shrubs to prevent pest attack.

It is true that pepper is very costly thus pesticide spray prepared out of it has to be costly. But it may be tried as by product of pepper powder packaging industry where the waste may be used for preparing pesticide by extraction. This, if organised can give us a helping hand to promote ecofriendly agriculture.

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