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Product Review: BASF’s Insecticide SEFINA

BASF SEFINA

Chemicals | Oct, 2019

Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. Serving a population of 1.3 billion, the agricultural sector occupies third spot after the services and industrial sector, contributing around 17% to the country’s economy in 2018. The advent of green revolution in 1970s, changed the status of India from a food deficient country to a food surplus economy. It helped the country serve the needs of its ever-increasing population and helped in increasing the country’s agricultural product exports. Despite all the achievements, the Indian agriculture sector is still facing a lot of challenges in the form of shrinking cultivable land area, unpredictable rain and weather patterns, lesser yield, low farmer income and most importantly crop losses due to attacks by pests and insects. Every year around 25% crop output is lost due to attacks by pests, weeds and diseases, and thus agrochemicals have an increasing role to play in improving the crop productivity and protection.

Agrochemicals or agrichemicals are used in agriculture industry to aid plant & crop growth, safety and protection. These are basically used to protect the crop from pests and increase the produce. Depending upon the pest against which an agrochemical is used, they can be broadly classified into insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, bio-pesticides, nematicides, among others. These also include soil conditioners and fertilizers. These agrochemicals are diluted in recommended amount and then applied either on the seeds or soil or crop or sometimes mixed in the irrigation water. The Indian agrochemical industry comprises of around 125 technical grade manufacturers, 800 registered formulators, more than 1,45,000 distributors and around 60 technical grades pesticides. Approximately around 80% of pesticides, both generic and non-generic, are being manufactured and launched by major Indian and multinational agrochemical manufacturing companies. Recently, in June 2018, BASF, a leading chemical manufacturing company, launched a new insecticide Sefina to help Indian farmers protect their crops and increase yield.


SEFINA- An Overview

The whiteflies menace in Punjab and adjoining areas caused a lot of damage to the cotton crop in the region. To control such incidences BASF introduced a new insecticide Sefina. Sefina is basically designed to control piercing and sucking insects such as Jassids and Whiteflies (early instar nymphs and adults) in specific specialty and row crops such as cotton, fruits & vegetable, cucurbits, soybean, among others. Sefina will help farmers combat resistance as a part of integrated pest management. Sefina is powered by a new active ingredient Inscalis. This is first of its kind and belongs to a new chemical class Pyropenes. Inscalis has been classified by the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) in the new mode of action subgroup 9D as its only member. Inscalis is derived from a fungal metabolite that occurs freely in nature. During the synthesis of Inscalis, the naturally occurring fungus undergoes fermentation followed by a drying process and the natural compound gets extracted. Finally, the extracted compound is refined and Inscalis is obtained. It has low acute toxicity to mammals, fishes, birds and important beneficial arthropods such as insect predators and pollinators. Its fast-acting nature provides rapid feeding cessation of insect pests and in turn reduces virus transmission. 


Table 1: Illustrates some of the physical & chemical properties of Sefina

Mode of Action

Inscalis acts selectively on the chordotonal organs of the insect. Chordotonal organs are basically the stretch receptor organs present in insects and other arthropods. These are not present in any other class of mammals. These organs are generally present in the antennae, mouth, legs, wings or thorax. These organs provide the insects with their senses of hearing, orientation, balance and coordinated movements. These chordotonal organs contain a TRPV ion channel which is the main molecular target of Inscalis. Inscalis binds with these TRPV ion channels causing them to open and generate continuous chordotonal nerve signals. This false signalling makes it nearly impossible for the brain to detect sound, gravity, movement and position of body parts. As a result of this the insect gradually stops feeding and die from dehydration and starvation. This insecticide’s unique formulation exhibits the acropetal and translaminar activity in the treated leaf.


Figure 1: Major Insect Targets of Sefina

Advantages of using Sefina

  • With Sefina, BASF has introduced a new mode of action for a faster, exceptional and long-lasting control of insects especially Jassids and Whiteflies.
  • Sefina is the best choice for resistance and integrated pest management.
  • Sefina has a unique formulation and comes with an inbuilt penetrant which ensures proper spreading on the plant or leaf or crop after spraying.
  • It is highly efficient and helps in good growth of plant especially cotton. It improves the quality of the cotton produced.
  • The use of Sefina has reduced the cases of viral transmission.


How to apply Sefina?

    Table 2: Illustrates the mode of application and dosage of insecticide 


    Sefina-Environmental Impact Analysis

    Inscalis, the active ingredient in Sefina is non-volatile in nature and is readily soluble in water at room temperature. Additionally, it is stable towards hydrolysis at acidic and neutral pH but at alkaline pH slow hydrolysis is observed. In presence of light, the active ingredient gets degraded in aqueous medium but not on the surface of soil. It has a very low leaching potential on account of its favourable combination of moderate sorption and easy degradation on soil surface. When applied to water or sediment systems it gets redistributed into sediments and steady degradation is also observed in water or sediment systems. Hence, Sefina does not have any harmful impact on the environment and can be readily used by Indian farmers.

    Related Products

    BASF has a range of agrochemicals to help the farmers and protect the crops. Like Sefina, the company has introduced two other products Basta and Priaxor, which are herbicide and fungicide respectively. Basta is a non-selective herbicide used for controlling weeds in tea and cotton. It acts on the crop by contact action and works efficiently to kill weed varieties. This is versatile in nature and effective under different climatic conditions. Priaxor, on the other hand is a fungicide which helps to combat stress and diseases in cotton crop. It ensures faster and long-lasting efficacy.

    Conclusion

    On account of ever-increasing population in India, there arises a need for sustainable crop production at an elevated level. The use of chemical fertilization and irrigation are the key features of the green revolution which are still used to increase the productivity and protect the crops. To meet the demands of the country’s population there arises a need to protect the produce from the pests. According to a study conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the annual losses due to pests and diseases amount to around $ 500 billion which is a quite significant figure in a country where a large portion of its population sleeps without having food. Hence, there is an inevitable need to do something about managing the pests without harming the environment or by causing minimal damage to the environment. Products such as Sefina can be helpful to a certain extent but there is a requirement to manufacture other such products targeting large number of other plants and crops or some other measure can be used for integrated pest management without harming the environment.

    Some of the key players operating in the agrochemical industry which are working on bringing out new products for pest management include Aimco Pesticides Ltd, Bayer CropScience Ltd, Bharat Rasayan Ltd, BASF India Pvt. Ltd., Dhanuka Agritech Ltd, Insecticides India Ltd, Meghmani Organics Ltd, NACL Industries Ltd, PI Industries Ltd, Rallis India Ltd, Sharda Cropchem Ltd, among others.

    According to TechSci Research, India Pesticide Market By Product Type (Herbicide, Insecticide, Fungicide, Plant Growth Regulator & Others), By Formulation (Dry & Liquid), By Crop (Cotton, Rice, Vegetables, Plantation, & Others), Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2013 – 2023, India pesticide market is projected to surpass $ 895 million by 2023. Increasing adoption of biopesticides and rising preference for environment-friendly pesticides coupled with better agricultural practices are anticipated to boost demand for pesticides in India in the coming years. Additionally, increasing emphasis on sustainable yet effective approaches supporting targeted release of active compounds into the plant species coupled with widely expanding adoption of integrated pest management practices is expected to propel India pesticide market during the forecast period. 



    According to another report by TechSci Research, Global Bio-fungicides Market By Source (Microbial, Biochemical & Plant Incorporated Protectants), By Formulation (Dry & Liquid), By Application (Cereals & Grains, Oilseeds & Pulses, Fruits & Vegetables, Turf & Ornamental & Others), By Region, Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2024, the global bio-fungicides market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 14% during the forecast period. Bio-fungicides contain micro-organisms as the core active ingredient which is used for control of fungal pathogens in crops. Basically, these are organic formulations meant for managing crop diseases. Bio-fungicides are the best remedy in those situations where heavy doses of chemical fertilizers are unable to protect the crop from the pathogens or diseases. The major advantage of bio-fungicides is that they give everlasting protection to the plants and crops.