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Plant oil mixture which may replace pesticide being developed in Taiwan

TAIPEI -- The Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute has developed a mixture of essential and plant oils to replace pesticide when growing vegetables and fruit, as part of the government's efforts to promote healthy agriculture.

Yu Jih-zu, an assistant researcher at the institute, told CNA Wednesday that his team has developed “a great substitute (for pesticide)” after seven years of trial and error.

The mixture contains five essential oils and three to four plant oils, Yu said, but he declined to give further details, citing commercial confidentiality.

The institute has transferred the know-how to three local companies, he added.

“The combination can enhance the effectiveness of other natural pesticides, such as a mixture of lime and sulfur,” Yu said.

The newly developed oil mixture has been used for growing cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, jujubes, papayas and strawberries, according to the institute.

Tsai Jyh-nong, a deputy researcher at the institute, said that farm management still plays an important role, as “timing is very critical.”

Greenhouses provide the best environment for crops, and farmers can use small-mesh nets to lower building costs, the researcher told CNA.

Weeding is crucial, Tsai went on, claiming that a lot of farmers do not know that weeds can be a perfect breeding ground for parasite eggs and diseases.

Farmers should also pay great attention to what kind of pests are invading their crops and what diseases are infecting their crop, he said.

“Such low-cost preventions and cures have proved effective. Most important of all, the crops are free of pesticide residue,” Tsai said.

“It not only ensures the health of consumers, but also preserves the ecosystem,” he added.

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