The potential usage of pesticides is high, but conversely allowing pests free rein could have devastating repercussions for the local economy. How best to satisfy these apparently competing demands?
Asian Agri has turned to nature for a solution, specifically Turnera Subulata, a flower originally from Mexico and the West Indies. Aside from helping make the plantations look more colorful, the flower is also the perfect home for Sycanus, a type of insect that hunts the caterpillars and worms that can damage oil palms.
"Turnera Subulata becomes a food source and host plant for Sycanus, the predators of leaf-feeding worms, so that the pest attack can be suppressed,” said Tumpal Panjaitan, Section Head for Pest & Disease at Asian Agri.
Asian Agri plants 18m2 of Turnera Subulat per 1.4 hectares of land, making a total of 1,285m2. Asian Agri has set up an extensive breeding program to develop the flower of cuttings, planting it not only in our own plantations, but in those of Plasma and independent smallholders too.
The flower looks beautiful when it blooms each morning, and has a productive life of up to five years.
"Turnera Subulata has a fast growth and also has a very beautiful aesthetic value, especially when it is blooming in the morning, usually at 08.00 AM. If treated well, then Turnera Subulata can last up to 5 years, "said Tumpal
Turnera Subulata is able to improve the ecological balance in the company's plantation area and the community, reducing the need for pesticide usage. This is consistent with the business philosophy of Asian Agri and parent company RGE, which states that business is good for the community, good for the country, good for the climate, good for the customer, and only then can it be good for the Company.