Aloe vera peels against pests

Aloe vera peels could combat pests of staple food crops.

Research shows that discarded aloe vera peels can be used as natural pesticides, helping farmers protect food crops from harmful insects.

According to CABI (the parent organization of SciDev.Net), worldwide, between 20 and 40% of crops are lost due to pests and diseases, directly affecting food security and nutrition.

Recognized uses of aloe vera

Aloe vera is a stemless cactus-like plant that is widely cultivated in Australia, China, India, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania and the United States.

Its gel is used to treat wounds, sunburn and skin diseases, and to prevent baldness.
However, the peel or husk of aloe vera is considered useless and is often discarded as agricultural waste.

"RUsing leftover aloe vera husks that are currently discarded can help make aloe vera production more sustainable and contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals".
Debasish Bandyopadhyay

"Millions of tons of aloe peel are likely disposed of worldwide each year." says Debasish Bandyopadhyay, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA, and principal investigator of a study to find ways to add value to aloe while reducing waste.

Aloe vera peel as a natural insecticide

At this month's meeting of the American Chemical Society (Aug. 17), Bandyopadhyay and his colleagues showed that aloe vera husk can act as a natural insecticide, repelling insects from crops such as corn and millet.

"We have shown that [aloe vera] bark extract acts as a repellent and ultimately kills agricultural pests"Bandyopadhyay said. He also explains that insects do not like aloe vera peel because it contains phytochemicals (chemicals produced by plants) that are toxic to them."The natural substances contained in aloe vera peel can harm or kill insects. Exposure to these compounds can cause discomfort, illness, and even affect the insects' ability to move, eat, and reproduce.", he added.

Scientists became interested in the potential use of aloe vera peel as a pesticide after visiting a site where they observed insects leaving aloe vera leaves to attack the leaves of other plants. They then hypothesized that aloe peels have specific defense chemicals.

In the study, the peels were collected and dried, then extracted with substances such as dichloromethane (DCM), hexane and methanol.

Their experiments showed that DCM extract from the peel of aloe vera It has important insecticidal properties against agricultural pests, as do six other compounds found in the peel.

It is worth noting that these compounds do not have toxic properties, suggesting that pesticides made from aloe vera peels would not pose a significant threat to human safety.

Economic potential of aloe vera peels

Chiranjeeb Chakraborty, a professor at the School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology at Adamas University in Kolkata, India, said the findings have huge economic potential and could help develop organic farming and traditional medicinal plants. “The world is now moving towards organic farming"He said.

He believes the study results could support the transition to more sustainable agriculture and replace chemical methods on millions of farms growing rice, wheat, corn and millet.

A 2021 review published in the journal Molecules found that widespread and long-term use of synthetic pesticides is causing human health problems, water, air and soil pollution, and the potential for pest resistance.

Plant-based pesticides, which are economical and environmentally friendly, are an important alternative to synthetic pesticides, protecting the environment, human health and improving crop productivity.

Chakraborty believes that this study opens the door to research into other traditional medicinal plants to find scientific evidence of their supposed benefits.

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