Phyolacca Dodecandra L’Herit (the ‘Endod Plant’) is a sprawling woody climbing shrub, native to parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South America and Asia. It acts as a natural pesticide. Mohammed has funded 5m birr (approximately $170,000) into researching its properties, and its development as a commercial bio-pesticide that can reduce the use of chemical pesticides, on a 50 hectare commercial farm within Ethio Agri-CEFT PLC.
Following successful field trials at two of the companies’ flower farms in Ethiopia and ten years of research, the environmentally friendly plant is now a firm candidate for replacing synthetic pesticides in many domestic and commercial settings. The research confirmed that it had fungicidal, larvicidal and molluscicidal properties and that the use of manufactured pesticides could be reduced.
The molluscicidal property of Phytolacca dodecandra was first discovered by Ethiopian scientist Professor Aklilu Lemma, a pathologist, in 1964. An endod-based molluscicide was used to control zebra mussels damaging American lakes and then applied to halt the spread of schistosomiasis (snail fever disease or bilharzia). It has also proven to be effective in controlling leaches and mosquito larva.
Professor Lemma and his then research associate, now Ethiopia’s leading agronomist, Professor Legesse Wolde-Yohannes won the prestigious Right Livelihood Award of Sweden, commonly referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize, in November 1989 for their endod-based work on zebra mussels and schistosomiasis.
Ethio Agri-CEFT has received all necessary approvals for the commercial development of the plant from government and independent experts, including the WHO. Investment in its future development, which includes export to overseas markets and possible use as a fertiliser, is an example of Mohammed’s commitment to environmentally sound agricultural and healthcare improvement through private enterprise.