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NMC-CREES awarded $72K grant to Experiment with New Pest Control Agent(July 24, 2008)

Local Farmers Encouraged to Participate in Experiment

In an effort to curb the adverse effects of pests on local crops, the Northern Marianas College ” Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service (CREES) has secured a $72,000 grant to fund a project that will demonstrate a new botanical insect control agent in the CNMI.

The Demonstration of Botanical Pesticides project, whose grant request was authored by CREES Pesticide Safety and Education Program Coordinator Arnold Route, will be funded by the United States Department of Agriculture ” Natural Resource Conservation Service. It aims to introduce Neem (also known as Nim, Nima, or its scientific name Azadirachta indica) to combat pests and minimize their harm.

Neem is a fast growing, non-invasive tree. Leaves for insecticide production can be harvested already three months after a seedling has been planted. Neem also improves soil quality, reduces wind erosion, and helps in greening of wastelands. Its most important feature, however, is that it offers a safe, effective, and economic strategy for pest control in harmony with nature and within reach of farmers with limited resources. The plant is said to control more than 125 pest species with little to no harm to beneficial insects.

Trials will start in October this year when the first seedlings will be planted on NMC-CREES experiment station in As Perdido. Farmers who are interested in participating in the Neem experiment can do so by contacting the CREES Office. According to Route, there will be 500 or more seedlings available for island-wide propagation.

“The advantage of Neem is that farmers can produce the leaf extract themselves,” Route said. “All they need is a blender.”

The timeline of this project is split into two phases. Phase one will start in October 2008 and consists of propagation and monitoring with crop trials in March next year. In the second phase from June 2009 to August 2010, NMC CREES will concentrate on community outreach through the use and dissemination of brochures, video presentations, and workshops.

The benefits of botanical pest control are multifaceted. Neem extract presents no danger to CNMI's aquifers. Residues on fruits, fodder crops and vegetables are not harmful to humans or animals.

“This project is part of CREES’s efforts to diminish the CNMI’s use of insect control chemicals that have harmful environmental and health consequences,” said Felicitas (Tee) Abraham, Dean for Community Programs & Services.

Arnold Route holds a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Guam. He possesses years of experience at the University of Guam Experiment Station working on entomological issues. Mr. Route started his career with NMC-CREES in 1999 on Tinian and moved to the Entomology Lab on Saipan in 2003.

To learn more about this project the interested public can contact Mr. Route at NMC-CREES 234-5498 ext. 1432.



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