Skip to Content
ICRISAT intern wins top awards for developing bio-insecticide

ICRISAT intern wins top awards for developing bio-insecticide

Media Release

Sarvesh Prabhu, a 17-year-old research intern at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), represented India at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta, USA and won the third prize and US $1000 in the biochemistry category for developing a cost-effective bio-insecticide from the leaves of bullock’s heart (Annona reticulata) popularly known as ramphal.

The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, also awarded him the first prize and ₹100,000 (US $1224) as part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Innovation Award for School Children.

The high school student from FIITJEE Junior College, Hyderabad, conducted research experiments at the entomology unit at ICRISAT headquarters in India early this year, and the outcome of his research was presented at the world’s largest pre-college science fair in Atlanta, USA.

ICRISAT's Deputy Director General-Research Dr Arvind Kumar said, "The Institute encourages participation of youth in agricultural research and has nurtured over 7000 interns and research scholars since its establishment by offering them access to world-class facilities and multidisciplinary mentoring."

The project titled, ‘A novel study of bio-insecticidal properties of Annona reticulata’ showcased the bio-insecticidal properties of the leaves of the plant. Traditionally, the extracts of various parts of this plant have been used to treat diseases like dysentery and pediculosis. The study revealed that extracts from its leaves could be effective against three disastrous pests, with the mortality rate ranging from 78-88%.

“ICRISAT always looks forward to mentoring young researchers like Sarvesh Prabhu and supporting them in their endeavors for building a sustainable food system for the future generation,” said Dr Sean Mayes, Research Program Director, Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT.

Addressing the pest problem

Pod borer (Helicoverpa armigera) alone may cause losses of more than US $300 million annually. Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) causes 38-42% yield loss in various crops and fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) causes 21-53% losses in the absence of pest management. These are the most common pests found in legumes and cereal crops.

“We maintain five insect cultures throughout the year, making it a one-of-its-kind research facility in India and supporting/providing insect cultures to many Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes, state agricultural universities, and private companies for their research activities on toxicology and host plant resistance," said Dr Jagdish Jaba, Scientist- Entomology, Crop Protection and Seed Health, ICRISAT.

Alternative to chemical insecticides

The chemical composition of bullock’s heart plant is found to act as a defense mechanism against insect pests.

Dr Rajan Sharma, Cluster Leader, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT said, “The mortality rate of pests between 78-88% in lab conditions is a very encouraging result. In the next stage, the bio-pesticide must be tested in greenhouse and field conditions for its efficacy against different insect pests.”

Cost-effective organic insecticide

The cost of cultivation increases by US $24-50 per acre with use of chemical insecticides while destroying beneficial insects and contaminating soil and food produce.

On the other hand, bio-insecticides cost between US $9-12 per acre of cropping land and produce eco-friendly and healthy produce.

Manufacturing insecticide from the leaves of bullock’s heart costs US $0.33 per liter. This makes it an affordable pesticide for smallholder farmers and offers an additional source of income through sale of fruits for human consumption and the leaves for bio-pesticide extracts.


This work aligns with SDGs 17, 2 and 1



Pest and Disease Control Poverty Alleviation Partnerships
About The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a pioneering International Organization committed to developing and improving dryland farming and agri-food systems to address the challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and environmental degradation affecting the 2.1 billion people residing in the drylands of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond.

ICRISAT was established under a Memorandum of Agreement between the Government of India and the CGIAR on the 28 March 1972. In accordance with the Headquarters Agreement, the Government of India has extended the status of a specified “International Organisation” to ICRISAT under section 3 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947 of the Republic of India through Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. UI/222(66)/71, dated 28 October 1972, issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

Our offices:

Asia: India (Headquarters - Hyderabad)

East and Southern Africa:  Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe

West and Central Africa: Mali, Niger, Nigeria

For all media inquiries, please email: [email protected]

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
Hyderabad, Telangana, India