Sunday, May 28, 2006

Beer Kills Fruit Flies

DR S. VIJAYASEGARAN's calm and cool demeanor is only broken when the topic of flies comes up. Fruit flies to be exact. The senior research fellow at the International Centre for Management of Pest Fruit Flies (ICMPFF) is finally seeing the fruits (pardon the pun) of his labor.

Housed in Griffith University, Brisbane, the ICMPFF embarked on a groundbreaking initiative in research collaboration between Australia and Southeast Asia to counter the effect of fruit flies, a major pest in the region, on fruit and vegetable production.

A major success is the conversion of beer waste into a protein fly-trap.

“It is a cheap and simple process. The beer waste is treated with heat and enzymes to convert the waste into a protein that is highly attractive to flies. The protein is then diluted with water and a small amount of insecticide. This mixture is then sprayed onto fruit trees in place of insecticide,” he says enthusiastically.

In 2004, a small processing plant was opened in Tien Giang province in Vietnam, and in a partnership with the Fosters' brewery, started to produce the protein bait on a large scale for the use of farmers in the country.

“It is hoped that the bait will improve fruit production and the livelihood of farmers as well enhance environmental and consumer safety. Way too often, farmers drench their crops with chemical sprays without realizing the dangers to their health,” he says.

In 2005, records show a fourfold increase in Vietnam's fruit and vegetable production, improving the basic standard of life for fruit farmers.

Dr Vijayasegaran, along with his project leader Prof Dick Drew, hopes to help in regional efforts to boost crop production and reduce poverty among farmers in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Endorsed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the unique partnership between ICMPFF and Asean countries has been reinforced by the establishment of a regional office in Malaysia. ICMPFF is also the springboard for joint research projects by scientists from all participating countries.

Griffith University, which greatly encourages interdisciplinary and international research networks, ranked fifth for research output last year. It has made its mark in areas ranging from population health to democracy, security and public policy, quantum dynamics and nanoscale science and technology.

Source - TheStar