A Contribution of ICAR National Fellow Project

A Web-portal exclusively on Termite R&D Crossed One Million Mark Covering 81 Countries Across the WorldITMM in IYoM 2023: Integrated Termite Management in Millets

General ITK

Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

Needless to cite, ITK is the assemblage of awareness and understanding of various facts which people have developed over a time scale. Since the advent of agriculture practices, there existed always constant tussle between mankind and insects for crop commodities. Through trial and error method, man has developed many practices to protect crop from various pests and diseases. Transcription and transmission of such age-old knowledge from generation to generation is most commonly found in the areas with undeveloped background. ITK include various religious tradition, faith and taboos, communication styles, music, knowledge on ecology and climate and many other components. This section deals with termites and the relevant ITKs mostly in Indian context.

The three most world famous deities, eg. Lord JagannathMata Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra of Puri (Odisha) are carved out of seasoned neem wood on each Navakalebar occasion (incarnation in every 12-yrs). Use of various botanicals extracted from variety of indigenous plants is being in practice since yore. Many of our ancient heritage literature script such examples, e.g. Varaha Mihir (505- 487 AD) mentioned use of roots of Vasika (Adhathoda vasica L.) and leaves of Atimuktaka (Hiptage benghalensis (L) Kurz. for seed treatments against attack of insects and worms. Likewise, many such examples are found in our olden and modern society which exhibit evidence of usage of ITK against termite in agricultural field. Under the patronage of Department Of Science and Technology, ICAR, CSIR, various NGOs like MS Swaminathan Research Foundation - Chennai, National Innovation Foundation – Ahmedabad;  documentation on ITKs were done at various points of time. Under National Fellow Project, documentation is done on traditional knowledge about termites, focusing ethno-entomological aspects and mostly on the management aspects. Scientific scrutiny, validation and sustainable application of ITKs in the light of modern science are the major challenges. To meet these challenges, a strong and information-rich data bank is required to be built.  With respect to natural resource-richness and existing ITK, undoubtedly India has a clear-cut competitive advantage globally. Unfortunately, most of the ITKs practiced in different part of country are remaining obscure, and here is the attempt to collect, compile and collate them all in one place in this website.
Interested readers are advised to refer our latest paper in Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge (2017). Following are some of the interesting points in this regard.

  • ITKs on termite management: ethnic comprehension concerning bio-safety  

  • Scientific validation of ITKs vis a vis tactful management of termites

  • Use of phyto-based and other non-chemical ITK in termite management: marvelous examples of green pest management

  • Protein or sugar-based products and animal waste in termite management

  • Trick agri-practices to tackle termite: another prominent use of ITK: Intercropping, weeding and tillage practices

Traditional knowledge on pest control as evolved in the age-old time, when there was least chance of any sort of harmful effect of technology on environment; ITKs were quite safe for human and environment. Despite holding immense potential, such ITKs are nowadays in dark and on the verge of extinction because of their limitation within the communities of far flung remote areas of our country lacking way of exploration. Present study on ITKs related to termite control is aimed at collecting information from various sources and justifying their scientific rationale. This could justify the significance of this traditional knowledge on termite management, where absolutely no or least environmental hazard is involved with promise of a healthy and safe tomorrow.

Conservation of jack wood sculptures in Kerala temple with neem and CNSL-preservatives inclusive of termiticidal properties.

Latest in a research communication in Current Science (doi: 10.18520/cs/v112/i03/615-618) anti-termite properties of cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) was detailed for conservation of an ancient archaeological monument in Kerala, Sri Vishnu temple, Kadavallur in Thrissur. Neem gum with anti-bacterial qualities and CNSL organic extract containing anti-termite and anti-fungal preservative properties are found quite suitable for conservation and preservation of said sculptures. The active ingredient in organic preservative CNSL was analyzed using HPLC and UV spectra revealing the presence of monoene, diene and triene in anachardic acid. The preservative CNSL, reported to enhance aesthetic appeal of the jack wood sculptures. CNSL-coated jack wood had lower moisture absorption in addition.  This method of conservation and consolidation is suitable to sculptures in such typical warm and humid conditions.

We can take lead in making anti-termite measures for wooden artifacts, sculptures and such structures. 

M. P. Sujith, L. Rajeswari, T. Sreelakhmi1 and E. V. Anoop 2017. Conservation of jack wood (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lamk.) sculptures in an ancient temple in Kerala, South India: identification of heritage wood samples, neem gum–cashew nut shell liquid application in consolidation and preservation. Current Science, 112 (3): 615-618.
doi: 10.18520/cs/v112/i03/615-618

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Last Updated: 27-03-2024

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