Improving lives through
sustainable bioinnovations

Deployment of a Novel Biodegradable Carrier for Efficient Crop Protection

Deployment of a Novel Biodegradable Carrier for Efficient Crop Protection

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The big idea

This project provides a new tool that improves the management of nematode pests especially for potato smallholder farmers. Soil-borne plant parasitic nematodes are a major threat to crop production but are difficult to control. Using the banana fibre paper technology pesticide application rates can be greatly reduced through the targeted delivery of very low but effective rates. Crop and environmental safety are improved through reduced contamination. The technology is also useful for the delivery of green, biologically based products, including biocontrol options and biofertilisers. Furthermore, the paper can be effective without impregnating with a product, reducing costs. A range of soil-borne pests can be targeted using the banana paper technology.

 Why it matters

Nematodes present a particularly pervasive and damaging pest problem but are mostly unappreciated as they are largely unknown. Managing biotic threats in the soil environment is also problematic, with very few suitable, safe or practical management options available for farmers. Good quality pesticides are expensive, while the use of any pesticide can lead to environmental contamination. Improved delivery and efficacy of reduced pesticide application rates results in safer, more sustainable crop production.

A new solution

The project will introduce a biodegradable paper made from banana fibre waste. The paper will be a crop protection product for the management of soil-borne pests and diseases. The special combination of cellulose and lignin in banana fibre provides strong chemical bond sites, which enables impregnation of extremely low, but effective, pesticide levels. The biodegradable nature of the paper creates a long, slow release of the pesticides, providing an extended period of activity against pests in the soil around the root zone. By enclosing seed material in the paper, pesticides are delivered in a targeted manner to the root zone, which protects the developing roots at their most critical time. The solution has substantial potential applicability to a range of crops grown under a range of cropping conditions and levels of scale, from smallholder through to commercial production systems.


Ultimately, a new crop protection product suitable for smallholder farmers. The direct, immediate users of the project outputs will be potato smallholder farmers in East Africa, while major benefits will be conveyed to consumers and other stakeholders through safer, higher crop productivity towards more accessible prices. Improving pest management, while concomitantly slashing pesticide application levels will have multiple benefits across the ecological and anthropological landscape. Other beneficiaries will include researchers, extensionists, markets, and private enterprise. An important capacity building component, through involvement of post-graduate students, will provide support and inspiration to young, emerging scientists. By developing this technology into a product in East Africa, benefits will be achieved through the creation of businesses and employment opportunities.

Environmental sustainability

The banana fibre paper is made from banana waste material, creating a circular bioeconomy aspect to the development of this technology. An indirect benefit also results from the removal of banana organic waste from the field, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially CO2, which would be further reduced with the replacement of synthetic fertilizers by the liquid biofertilizer by-product. Delivery of efficient but much reduced levels of pesticide dosages and introduction of a novel and effective delivery system for biological products will ultimately be beneficial to biodiversity composition, that would otherwise be impacted by higher synthetic chemical pesticide use.

Project Partners


Project Leader

Dr Danny Coyne – International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)