Herbal Hit

Natural formulation hopes to fight ticks in dairy,meat animals without side-effects

Written by Hamza Khan | Lucknow | Published: June 14, 2013 12:51:59 am

To counter the toxic effect of chemicals being used as acaricides – a drug/preparation to kill ticks – on dairy and meat animals,the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Izatnagar,Bareilly,and the Lucknow-based National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR-NBRI) have jointly developed a novel herbal formulation.

Eco-friendly and non-toxic,the preparation claims it has no side-effects unlike many of its chemical counterparts,some of which have been linked to cancer in humans as well as reduced productivity in animals. Once commercialised,the herbal formulation hopes to play a significant role in bringing down the losses to Indian cattle farmers from tick-borne diseases,estimated at around Rs 3,000 crore annually.

The Indian dairy and meat industry faces two kinds of problems due to the presence of ticks and the use of chemicals to kill them.

“Tick infestation leads to direct and indirect harm to animals in the form of blood loss,general stress and irritation,decrease in productivity,weakened immune system,damage to hides etc.,” said Dr A K S Rawat,principal investigator of the project at NBRI.

“Even our dairy and meat market is limited to a select number of countries because of its quality,” said Dr Srikanta Ghosh of IVRI,chief principal investigator of the project. According to NBRI,almost all types of dairy and meat animals in the country suffer from tick infestation and they are mainly controlled through the use of synthetic chemicals. But chemical usage has itself become a major problem.

“Due to the indiscriminate use of drugs,ticks have developed resistance to almost all available acaricides/insecticides,” Rawat said. “Moreover,overuse of acaricides and insecticides has led to contamination of dairy products,which enters the human body and leads to a host of diseases,including cancer,” he said,citing the ‘cancer train’ in Punjab which has reported the extensive use of chemical acaricides and insecticides.

“What happens is that the ticks become resistant to chemical acaricides over time and hence the acaricide,which,for example,was initially used as 1.5 per cent concentration,is eventually used in 10-12 per cent concentration,” Rawat said. “This leads to an increased chemical residue which essentially means an increased incidence of life threatening diseases.”

The problem caused the IVRI to take up the multi-crore project to find herbal acaricides in 2008-09 under the National Agricultural Innovation Project of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research,with NBRI and Kerala Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences University as consortium partners.

“The developed drug is safe,non-toxic,biodegradable,environment friendly,non-contaminating and also effective against ticks which have developed resistance to synthetic chemicals,” Rawat said. To give final touches to the project and facilitate the transfer of technology,the project has been extended until 2014.

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