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Colombia: Water disinfectant improves production of plantain and banana

"Clean water, healthy crops" is the motto with which Natalia Zapata, a technologist in agricultural production from Unisarc (Santa Rosa de Cabal University) has developed a water disinfectant to counter pathogens in banana and plantain crops.

Natalia Zapata began her research a year ago in Unisarc's laboratories of biotechnology and, thanks to her progress, she now has the support of the biotechnology and nanotechnology line from Pereira's Technopark.

"The product, called Dioagro, initially disinfects water; you start by mixing it with the water. Once the water is disinfected you can apply it to the plant allowing it to battle against pathogens, so the plants can produce," she explained.

The disinfected water is applied to banana and plantain plantations as well as to the soil in order to inhibit the growth of pathogens such as the Black Sigatoka, the Panama disease, bacteriosis and moko, which are biological agents that cause damage to these crops.

"Why should only humans and animals drink pure water? Why haven't we thought about giving clean water to the plants?" asked Natalia to state the reasons why she became interested in the topic.

The investigation, Alternative management for diseases such as the Black Sigatoka, Panama disease, bacteriosis and moko in musaceae, is currently in its pilot phase. Dioagro is being applied to crops in Alcalá, Valle, Belalcazar, Caldas, and Urabá, Antioquia.

"Small farmers will especially benefit from it because, when they detect diseases like the moko or the Panama disease in their crops, the ICA eradicates the affected areas leaving the farmers with no options. In contrast, with the results that this product has had in the field, farmers can recover the affected production site without losing their crops and investment," said Natalia.

Applications are being made every 45 days with optimum performance so far.

The product's effect
The manager and leader of the biotechnology and nanotechnology line from Pereira's Technopark Node, Ana Maria Piedrahita Gallo, said that Diagro isn't a pesticide but that it prevented plants from spreading diseases because it attacked the cell membrane killing most of the microorganisms that produced them.

"It's a chemical disinfectant, but its toxicity is minimal and we are studying if it leaves residues. Once the experimental part is completed, we will start looking for resources so that the product can be approved by the ICA and Invima," said Ana Maria Piedrahita.


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