Focus on Environment


This book is the Proceedings of the ‘National Seminar on Sustainable Environment and Health 2016’ & ‘World Environment Day-2016 (WED-2016)’ events held on the campus of AIMST University, Kedah, Malaysia.

ISBN: 978-967-14475-0-5 (Print version); eISBN: 978-967-14475-1-2 (e-Book version)

Subhash Bhore & K. Marimuthu

ong>Focusong> on Environment

Challenges and Perspectives

for Sustainable Development

Subhash Bhore & K. Marimuthu, Editors

ong>Focusong> on Environment

Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

Proceedings of the ‘National Seminar on Sustainable Environment and

Health 2016’ & ‘World Environment Day-2016 (WED-2016)’ events held

on the campus of AIMST University, Kedah, Malaysia


Subhash Bhore & K. Marimuthu


ong>Focusong> on Environment

Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

Subhash Bhore & K. Marimuthu (Editors)

Published by AIMST University


ISBN: 978-967-14475-0-5 (Print version)

eISBN: 978-967-14475-1-2 (e-Book version)

Financial support for the ‘National Seminar on Sustainable

Environment and Health 2016’ and ‘WED-2016’ events

was provided by:

• AIMST University

• OTA Tunnel Squad Sdn. Bhd.

• SKiWealth Sdn. Bhd.

• Merchantrade Asia Sdn. Bhd.

• Lembaga Sumber Air Negeri Kedah

• Mutaiya Group of Companies

• Poliklinik Sakthi N Sheila Sdn Bhd, Kulim

Conference and WED-2016 events were organized by:

Published by

AIMST University

Printed by

AIMST University


© 2016 by the authors; editors; AIMST University, Malaysia. This

book is an open access book distributed under the terms and

conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license


CC BY license is applied which allows users to download, copy, reuse and distribute

data provided the original article and book is fully cited. This open access aims to

maximize the visibility of articles, reviews, perspectives and notes, much of which is

in the interest of national, regional and global community.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this book is designed to highlight the views,

perspectives and or research findings of respective contributors. While the best

efforts have been used in preparing this book, Editors and or Publisher make no

representations or warranties of any kind and assume no liabilities of any kind with

respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents and specifically disclaim

any implied warranties. Neither the Editors nor Publisher of this book shall be held

liable or responsible to any person or entity with respect to any loss or incidental or

consequential damages caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or

indirectly, by the information highlighted herein. Readers should be aware that the

information provided in this book may change.

All articles, reviews, and notes published in this book are deemed to reflect the

individual views of respective authors and not the official points of view, either of the

Editors or of the Publisher.

Edited by

Dr. Subhash J. Bhore (Senior Associate Professor) 1 , and

Dr. K. Marimuthu (Professor) 2

Address for Correspondance:

1 Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, AIMST University,

Bedong-Semeling Road, 08100 Bedong, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia; Telephone

No.: +604 429 8176; e-mail: /

2 Chancellery, AIMST University, Bedong-Semeling Road, 08100 Bedong, Kedah

Darul Aman, Malaysia; Telephone No.: +604 429 1054; e-mail:


First; December 23, 2016


This book is dedicated to all researchers

working in various domains of science and

technology, and to all stakeholders those

are working for the global sustainable

development to improve the health of the

people and planet.

World Environment Day-2016 (WED-2016) Events Steering



Prof. Dr. Kasi Marimuthu


Mr. Christapher Parayil Varghese

Dr. Gokul Shankar

Mr. Arunagiri Shanmugam


Ms. Kalaiselvee Rethinam


Dr. Shalini Sivadasan

Dr. Rohini Karunakaran

Ms. Elil Suthamathi

National Seminar

Dr. Subhash J. Bhore

Dr. Anthony Leela

Dr. Lee Su Yin

Dr. V. Ravichandran

Dr. S. Parasuraman

Dr. Venkateskumar

Dr. Sunitha Namani

Dr. Jawahar Dhanavel

Dr. Saurabh Prakash

Dr. Durga Prasad

Dr. Ajay Jain

Mr. Maheswaran

Mr. Nithiananthan

Mr. Girish Kumar

Ms. Veni Chandrakasan

Mr. R. Rizhi

Mr. Elanchezhian

Ms. Vijayananthinee Arumugam

Ms. Ponnarasy Ganasen

Mr. Jeevandran Sundarasekar

Ms. Mangalarani

Publicity and Sponsors

Dr. Sivachandran Parimannan

Mr. Anthony Tee

Mr. Siventhiran


Mr. G. Prabhakaran

Mr. Halikhan


Mr. S. Maheswaran


Mr. Gobinath


Mr. D.S Muraly Velavan

Mr. Neeraj Paliwal

Ms. Musalinah Buzri


Mr. S. Krishnan

Mr. V. Krishnan

Ms. Yoganandhi

*of/at AIMST University

Slogan writing, Quiz, Debate, Trash to

treasure competitions

Ms. Faustina Lerene Dominic

Ms. Rebecca Jayamalar

ISBN: 978-967-14475-0-5; e-ISBN: 978-967-14475-1-2



It is a great honor and pleasure to write this foreword

message for this proceedings; because, I had attended this

seminar and witnessed the success of the World Environment

Day (WED) awareness campaign.

The WED is the biggest event and globally celebrated

on June 5 each year to promote awareness about preservation

of environment and to take positive actions. The WED is

engaging millions of people across the globe through events

and celebrated over 100 countries. Every year, participants,

several organizations, organize clean-up campaigns, art

exhibits, tree-planting, concerts, dance recitals, recycling

drives, social media campaigns and different contests with

various themes for preservation of environment. AIMST University, strongly belives in

the need of increasing understanding and creating more awareness among students sothat

they can appreciate the values of biodiversity and the clean environment.

First of all, I would like to thank all the invited speakers, delegates, young

researchers and participants of the ‘National Seminar on Sustainable Environment and

Health’ for their participation, and sharing their views and perspectives on environmental

issues and conservation.

Thirteen (13) leading and eminent researchers and environmentalists delivered

their talk on the various environmental issues important for sustainable development. The

seminar brought together the researchers, students, entrepreneurs those are working in the

areas of environment and health. National seminar provided a magnificent opportunity

for all the participants to interact with eminent colleagues. I wish to thank all the speakers

and participants, environmental NGOs, students from various schools and universities for

participating in the seminar and WED events. I also wish to thank all supporters for

supporting the seminar and events.

I am really happy to know that full-length articles received from the invited

speakers of the Seminar on Sustainable Environment and Health are being published in

this proceeding. I would record my special thanks to Professor Dr. K. Marimuthu, a

highly committed organizing Chairman, and Senior Associate Professor Dr. Subhash

Bhore, a leading Editor of this book for their efforts in bringing out this book to

document the conference and WED-2016 events. I also thank the purpose driven

organizing committee members and volunteers for their contribution and support.

I am very sure that content of this proceeding will serve as a reference to students,

researchers, scientists, public and all other stakeholders those have concern about


Thank you,

Senior Professor Dr. M. Ravichandran

Chief Executive & Vice-Chancellor, AIMST University, Malaysia

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Globally, World Environment Day (WED) is a great

annual event celebrated each year on June 5, to engage

millions of people from different countries to draw the

attention of several organizations and public to implement

some effective actions and create positive awareness to

preserve the environment and planet earth. This year’s

theme for WED was “Go Wild for Life” that highlights the

fight against the illegal trade in wildlife, which erodes

precious biodiversity and threatens the survival of

elephants, rhinos and tigers, as well as many other species.

This event is also helpful in encouraging to explore all

those species under threat and take action and help safeguard them for future generations.

To commemorate and celebrate the WED, AIMST University hosted a one day

seminar on Sustainable Environment and Health, planting trees, slogan writing

competition, environmental quiz, debate, trash to treasure - a innovation competition, and

cycling event. The main aim of these events was to create awareness about the global

environmental issues among school students, university students, staff, and common


Dato Dr. Leong Yong Kong, Exco Environment, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia

had officiated the opening ceremony of the seminar. In a keynote address, Prof. Sultan

Ismail Eco-science Research Foundation, India highlighted importance of the traditional

farming systems, the applications of vermin-compost and foliar sprays to control pests.

There were 13 invited speakers who delivered talks on various aspects of the

environmental challenges, conservation and natural farming systems. This proceeding is

the compilation of conference papers and WED events. However, four additional articles

submitted by respective authors are also added in this book.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to Dato' Seri Utama Dr. S.

Samy Vellu, Chancellor and Chairman, AIMST University and Senior Prof. Dr. M.

Ravichandran, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of AIMST University, Malaysia for

their full support to organize this WED events. Specially, I wish to thank my colleague,

Senior Associate Professor Dr. Subhash Bhore for playing a major role in bringing out

this book to document the national conference and various events of WED-2016.

I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all the invited

speakers from various institutions and universities from India and Malaysia for sharing

their views by participating in the conference. Last but not least, I would like to thank

wholeheartedly to all the WED committee members for their commitment, cooperation

and support provided to execute various events.

Thank you,

Dr. K. Marimuthu

Chairman WED-2016 Events, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic and International

Affairs, AIMST University, Malaysia

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World Environment Day (WED 2016) Events Steering Committee ........................ i

Foreword ....................................................................................................................... ii

Preface ......................................................................................................................... iii

Contents ....................................................................................................................... iv

For Earth’s Sake

Sultan Ahmed Ismail .................................................................................................. 1

Integrated Rice-Fish Farming: A New Avenue for Sustainable Agriculture

M. Aminur Rahman, Md. Shamim Parvez and Kasi Marimuthu ............................. 16

Molecular Marker Techniques in Environmental Forensic Studies

Narayanan Kannan .................................................................................................. 31

Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming: A Case in Paddy Farming in

Peninsular Malaysia

Zakirah Othman and Quamrul Hasan ..................................................................... 38

Environmental Legislations in Malaysia: A Protection to Public Health

Haslinda Mohd Anuar.............................................................................................. 51

The Echinoderm (Sea Cucumber) Fisheries in the Indo-Pacific Region: Emerging

Prospects, Potentials, Culture and Utilization

M. Aminur Rahman and Fatimah Md. Yusoff .......................................................... 60

Environment and Its Impact on Human Health

Sridevi Chigurupati, Jahidul Islam Mohammad and Kesavanarayanan Krishnan

Selvarajan ................................................................................................................ 74

Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios for Tracing Food Web Connectivity

Debashish Mazumder............................................................................................... 89

Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria and Crop Productivity

Umaiyal Munusamy ................................................................................................. 95

World Soil Day: A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Global Sustainable Development

Subhash Janardhan Bhore ..................................................................................... 107

Basics for Sustainable Environment: Reduce Wastage, Reuse, and Recycle

Rajesh Perumbilavil Kaithamanakallam, Samudhra Sendhil and Aarthi Rajesh.. 116

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Natural Farming: Malaysian Farmers Experience

N V Subbarow ........................................................................................................ 120

Abstracts ................................................................................................................... 123

Appendices ................................................................................................................ 129

Appendix 1: A Brief Biography of Speakers ......................................................... 129

Appendix 2: WED-2016 Events held at AIMST University ................................. 137

Appendix 3: How you can help in saving the world? ............................................ 148

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“The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an

inheritance from our fore fathers but on loan from our

children. So we have to handover to them at least as it

was handed over to us.”

--- Mahatma Gandhi

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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P1-15

For Earth’s Sake

Sultan Ahmed Ismail

Ecoscience Research Foundation, 98, Baaz Nagar, 3/621 East Coast Road, Palavakkam,

Chennai 600041, India; Phone No.: +91 9384898358; Email:


The dynamic nature of a soil is due to the tremendous activity of micro and macro organisms

supported by availability of organic matter. A vast number of organisms engineer a myriad of

biochemical changes as decay of organic matter takes place in the soil. Based on my continuous

research on earthworms made me write “earthworms are the pulse of the soil, healthier the

pulse, healthier the soil”. Fresh casts, urine, mucus and coelomic fluid which are rich in the

worm-worked soil and burrows act as stimulant for the multiplication of dormant

microorganisms in the soil and are responsible for constant release of nutrients into it, which then

facilitates root growth and a healthy appropriate sustainable rhizosphere. Compost and

vermicompost as well as a number of foliar sprays such as Panchagavya, FEM and Gunapaselam

along with pest repellents can be a healthy choice for a sustainable ecosystem which shall be

environmentally compatible and economically viable.

Keywords: Compost; foliar sprays; organic farming; soils; sustainability; vermitech;

vermicompost; vermiwash


The dynamic nature of a soil is due to the

tremendous activity of micro and macro

organisms supported by availability of

organic matter. It is this life in the soil that

lends its name to soil as “living soil”. A vast

number of organisms engineer a myriad of

biochemical changes as decay of organic

matter takes place in the soil. Among the

organisms, which contribute to soil health,

the most important are the earthworms.

Based on my continuous research on

earthworms made me write “earthworms are

the pulse of the soil, healthier the pulse,

healthier the soil”.

Soil is a living dynamic system

whose functions are mediated by diverse

living organisms which in agriculture

requires proper management and

conservation. Unfortunately, in today’s

chemical agriculture importance is shown on

soil fertility and not on the holistic soil

health which provides an integrated

sustainable mechanism to the soil to sustain

its “living” fabric of nature.

Among the myriad of soil organisms,

earthworms are one of the most vital

components of the soil biota in terms of soil

formation and maintenance of soil structure

and fertility. They are extremely important

in soil formation, principally through

activities in consuming organic matter,

fragmenting it and mixing it intimately with

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mineral particles to form water stable

aggregates (Ismail, 2005). During feeding,

earthworms promote microbial activity by

several orders of magnitude, which in turn

accelerate the formation of organic matter as

microorganisms are the ultimate

decomposers and mineralisers in the detritus

food chain and in organic matter

decomposition. Fresh casts, urine, mucus

and coelomic fluid which are rich in the

worm-worked soil and burrows act as

stimulant for the multiplication of

microorganisms in the soil and are

responsible for constant release of nutrients

into it, which then facilitates root growth

and a sustainable rhizosphere.

Darwin’s pioneering work on

earthworms (The Formation of Vegetable

Mould through the Action of Worms)

published by John Murray in October 1881

remains one of the pioneering works of

modern science, though ancient Indian

literature has often quoted the benefits of

earthworms. As one who pioneered the

culture of local earthworms Perionyx

excavatus and Lampito mauritii in India and

also extensively worked with Eudrilus

eugeniae after it was introduced by

Professor Dr. Radha D Kale of University of

Agriculture Sciences, Hebbal, Bengaluru,

into India; my students and I have done

immense research. I do agree that I have not

worked with Eisenia fetida or Eisenia

andrei, though I do have enough

information about them.


Earthworms belong to the order Chaetopoda

under Class Oligochaeta, Phylum Annelida

and Division Invertebrata. Indian

earthworms mostly are Megascolecids,

though Lumbricids also coexist. Several

European Lumbricid earthworms found their

way into India when the British brought


potted plants to their residences especially

into the cooler parts of India.

Earthworms are one of the chief

components of the soil biota in terms of soil

formation and maintenance of soil structure

and fertility. They are extremely important

in soil formation, principally through

activities in consuming organic matter,

fragmenting it and mixing it intimately with

mineral particles to form water stable

aggregates (Ismail, 2005). During feeding,

earthworms promote microbial activity by

several orders of magnitude, which in turn

also accelerate the rates of break down and

stabilization of humic fractions or organic

matter. Microorganisms are the ultimate

decomposers and mineralisers in the detritus

food chain and in organic matter

decomposition. Earthworms are the

facilitators for the dormant microorganisms

in soils providing them with organic carbon,

optimum temperature, moisture and pH in

their gut for their multiplication.

Microorganisms are excreted in their casts

and also harbored in the drilospheres. Fresh

casts, urine, mucus and coelomic fluid

which are rich in the worm-worked soil and

burrows act as stimulant for the

multiplication of dormant microorganisms in

the soil and are responsible for constant

release of nutrients into it, which then

facilitates root growth and a healthy

appropriate sustainable rhizosphere.

Though more than 3500 species of

earthworms are in the world with India

having about 500 species in its diversity, it

is easier to recognize earthworms based on

their ecological strategies… that is based on

the nature of the position in the ecosystem

(Figure 1). Based on this classification three

broad based categories are listed though

there are possibilities of some trespass

between these categories.

The surface feeders are the epigeic

worms. These worms may or may not

consume soil. The Indian blue Perionyx

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excavatus, P. sansibaricus are excellent

earthworms. Eudrilus eugeniae and Eisenia

fetida, though exotic, also belong to the

epigeic category. The anecis or the

intermediates are those who create

predominantly vertical burrows in the soil.

Lampito mauritii is an anecic so is

Lumbricus terrestris in Europe. The

endogeics are the predominant horizontal


Soils exposed to the veracities of

nature and without mulch may not harbor

epigeics. The anecic are those who have

regained the mastery of aestivation or

summer sleep. A good aerated soil with

optimal conditions generally harbor all these

three types of earthworms.


A healthy soil (in Indian condition)

should at least have 5% organic matter, but

conditions presently after the green

revolution are poor with a national average

of about 0.5%.

A good healthy soil generally should

have air (about 25%), water (about 25%),

organic matter consisting of humus, roots,

organisms (about 5%) and mineral matter

(about 45%). This enables a large

biodiversity of soil organisms as well;

enabling soil as a living “organism”.

The burrows created mostly by the

anecic earthworms are called as drilospheres

(Figure 2), though other organisms may also

contribute to them. These act as the

circulatory and respiratory systems of the


Figure 1: Earthworms based on their ecological strategies.

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Figure 2: Drilospheres created by anecic earthworms.


About 500 species of earthworms are found

in India. Earthworms that are brought in

from other countries are called exotic.

Internationally 3 species of earthworms have

largely been used for vermicomposting, they

being Eisenia fetida and Eudrilus eugeniae,

which are exotic, and Perionyx excavatus,

which is endemic. Local species of

earthworms used for vermicomposting in

India generally are Perionyx excavatus and

Lampito mauritii.

Succession of microorganisms in the

process of composting and the quality of

microorganisms in compost and


The process of composting, although shows

the occurrence of different microorganisms

such as bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes,

phosphate solubilizers and the

microorganisms involved in the nitrogen

cycle; succession is shown in the quantity of

microbes depending upon the nature of the

substrate, the age of the compost, the

ambience created by the existing microbes

to its successors and also the physical and

chemical characteristics.

The majority of the microorganisms

in the initial stages of the composting are the

heterotrophic bacteria, which rely on the

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oxidation of the large amount of organic

carbon. It reduces during the thermophilic

phase till the formation of the biodung

compost. This then increases in

vermicompost due to the passage of the

material through the earthworm and the

presence of the assimilable C, in the gut and

the cast of the earthworms (Lavelle et al.,


The role of microorganisms in the

nitrogen cycle is very prominent. There is

increased presence of ammonifiers in the

initial stage of composting, which correlates

with the high amount of protein degradation

and the microbial contribution to reduce

C:N. Nitrifiers however increase from the

initial to the final stages. The products of the

ammonifiers create an environment for the

multiplication of nitrifiers which utilize

ammonia and convert it to nitrite and nitrate.

To substantiate this extra-cellular ammonia

nitrogen decreases steadily from the initial

higher values during the entire composting

process. The ammonification process is

reported to increase due to high temperature

(Prasad and Powar, 1997).

Nitrification potential as indicated by

NO2- N decreases with composting time.

The NO2 production drops and stabilizes to

low levels during the later stages of

composting till no further decomposition

can take place, as the C: N ratio gets

stabilized (Tiquia et al., 2002).

The NO3 production increases till

about the 14 th day of composting thereafter

declining till the 35 th day. This drop could

be due to high temperature, as nitrification is

inhibited by high temperature and could also

indicate microbial immobilization. The

dominance of the extra-cellular production

of NO3 on the worm worked vermicompost

could be the result of the enhanced nitrifier


Amount of phosphate in compost

samples throughout the process and

vermicompost records a steady increase


from the initial phase of composting till

vermicompost. This is due to the increased

phosphatase activity in vermicompost as

earthworm casts and feces exhibit higher

phosphatase activity (Mansdell et al., 1981

and Satchel and Martin, 1984). It is also

observed that PO4 production shows a

decline at about the 21 st day of composting

which correlates with the reports of Gupta

(1999) that high NH4 + concentration retards

P fixation. Phosphate solubilizers also

steadily increase throughout the process. So

in terms of succession ammonifiers which

are the major organic N decomposers are

succeeded by the nitrifiers and phosphate


Oxidation of sulfur and sulfate

compounds is elaborated by aerobic obligate

autotrophs. Thiobacillus thiooxidans and

Thiobacillus thioparus, recorded in

vermicompost attribute to the reason for

vermicompost being capable of ameliorating

sodic soils. The population density of the

actinomycetes increases from the initial

phase of composting till the maturation

phase except for a period of decline in the

thermophilic phase.

Actinomycetes occur after readily

available substrate disappears in the early

stages and colonize in the humification stage

as the compost reaches maturity. It is also

found that the optimum temperature of

actinomycetes is 40-50 o C, which is also the

temperature for lignin degradation in

compost (Tuomela et al., 2000).

Fungal density decreases as the

composting process progresses.

Mucoraceous group of fungi commonly

referred to as sugar fungi are observed in the

initial and early phases of composting.

Species of Aspergillus dominate and are

responsible for major degradation of initial

organic carbon as they are known to

elaborate cellullases and hemicellulases. A

lignolytic fungi, Coprinus spp. are

predominantly found to colonize the

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compost only towards the end when

complex organic matter is biodegraded.

The thermophilic fungi record an

increase in density and diversity during the

thermophilic phase and these are known to

bring about degradation of cellulose, lignin

and pectin at a faster rate in conjunction

with high temperature. The presence of

Trichoderma viridae and Trichoderma

harzianum, both potential biocontrol agents,

during the composting process and to a

larger magnitude in the vermicompost is


The density and diversity of algae

increases progressively and maximum

recorded in the vermicompost. Of special

significance are the presences of algae such

as Oscillatoria spp., Anabaena spp., and

Nostoc spp. which are known to enhance

soil fertility. For information of those using

earthworms or desirous of using

compost/vermicompost/in-situ composting

the material generally has the following

microorganisms (Priscilla, 2006;

Dhakshayani, 2008). Generally microbial

population in compost is reported to be ―

heterotrophic bacteria:463.11±162.26 × 10 6 ;

fungi population: 13.46 ± 2.07 × 10 4 ; and

actinomycetes: 44.05 ± 17.11 × 10 6 .



Bacillus spp.

Pseudomonas spp.

Serratia spp.

Klebsiella spp.

Enterobacter spp.



Absidia spp.

Rhizopus stolonifer

Aspergillus flavus

Aspergillus fumigatus

Aspergillus flavipes

Aspergillus nidulans

Aspergillus niger

Aspergillus ochraceus

Aspergillus tamarii

Chrysosporium pannorum

Emericella nidulans

Dreschslera australiensis

Fusarium oxysporum

Monilia sitophila

Penicillium citrinum

Penicillium oxalicum

Mucor racemosus

Trichoderma viride




Cladophora spp.

Oscillatoria spp.

Anabaena anomala

Anabaena ambigua

Arthrospira spp.

Westiellopsis prolifiea

Nostoc spp.

Protococcus spp.

Cladophora spp.

Schizothrix spp.

Chaetonema spp.

Stigonema spp.

Though we have identified presence

of actinomycetes in earthworm casts in our

laboratory, researchers from other

laboratories have identified species of

actinomycetes in castings (Kumar et al.,

2012. Sreevidya et al., 2016). Association of

actinomycetes confers many advantages to

plants like production of antibiotics,

extracellular enzymes, phytohormones,

siderophores and phosphate solubilization,

protects plant against biotic and abiotic


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Streptomyces spp.

Streptosporangium spp.

Saccharoployspora spp.

Actinomadura spp.

Nocardia spp.

Nocardiopsis spp.

Planobispora spp.

Micromonospora spp.

Actinomadura spp.

Microbispora spp.

Thermobifida spp.

We may have apprehensions on other

technologies, but each has been time tested

and none of the “non-chemical”

practitioners have forced their technology on

anyone or talk evil of the other. To be

organic is to first “decolonize our minds”.

Biodynamic farming does suggest several

components of the BD category. One of

their excellent tools is the biodynamic

chromatography. We have applied this on

analysis of composts from several sources

and have been a good functional tool.

Thanks to Dr. Dhakshayani for trying this

for her research programme (presented in

2007. submitted 2008). This technique did

reveal that the vermicompost prepared by

the endemic (local) earthworms’ P.

excavatus and L. mauritii which we call as

vermitech is indeed superior to that

produced by exotic (foreign) earthworms

(Figures 3A & B). There is no doubt about

it. But at the same time there is no adverse

information about compost by exotic


Most foliar sprays especially the

organic ones have several components

similar to plant growth promoter substances

in them. Vermiwash is one such excellent

liquid fertiliser (Ismail, 2005). Studies in our

laboratory by Sheik Ali (2009) have

revealed the presence of substances (Table


1) which invariably are associated with plant


There are about 3 isomers of indole

compounds separated in Vermiwash, 2-(4-

methylphenyl) indolizine is an alkaloid

which has a significant role in plant growth

promotion. At retention time of 19.70 min

capric acid was separated, which is a fatty

acid, obtained from the castings of

earthworms which is also reported to have a

significant role in plant growth promotion in

lower concentrations (Imaishi and Petkova-

Andonova, 2007). Maleic acid which was

identified is a well-established plant growth

promoter (Delhaize et al., 1993). Methyl 2-

4(-tert-butylphenoxy) acetate belongs to the

ring-substituted phenoxy aliphatic acids

generally exhibiting a strong retarding effect

on abscission in turn promote plant growth.

Vermiwash by its instinctive quality might

probably promote humification, increased

microbial activity to produce the plant

growth promoting compounds and enzyme

production (Haynes and Swift, 1990). All

the compounds present in vermiwash (Table

1) may not individually help in plant growth

but perhaps act synergistically along with

the beneficial soil microbes found in


Experiments applying Vermiwash

with Panjagavya etc. by Thangaraj (2006)

on plants and their chromosomes have

shown significant results of enhanced xylem

vessels (Figure 4) and no chromosomal

damage; and these can be prepared by

farmers in their farms without paying


In organic farming practice we do

not nurse the plant, we nurse the soil. The

soil in turn promotes its group of biotic

elements who churn the nutrients as desired

by the plant. Recently (2016) yet another

student of mine Ramalakshmi has come out

with a unique medium to multiply

microorganisms by the farmer in non-sterile

non-laboratory conditions which will enable

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For Earth’s Sake


Figure 3: A & B) Biodynamic chromatograms of vermicompost from earthworms.

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Table 1: Components of Vermiwash.

No Compound








CAS registry





2- (4-methyl phenyl) indolizine 19.33 C15H13N 7496-81-3 207.27

2 Decanoic acid, ethyl ester 19.70 C12H24O2 110-38-3 200.318

3 1-methyl-2-phenyl-indole 27.10

C15H13N 3558-24-5 207.27

4 2-methyl-7-phenyl-1H-indole 29.83 C15H13N 1140-08-5 207.27

5 Pentadioic acid, dihydrazide


6 Methyl 2-(4-tert- butyl

phenoxy) acetate*





324012-36-4 316.312

33.44 C13H18O3 88530-52-3 222.28

Figure 4: Anatomical changes in xylem vessels; C: control; V: vermiwash; P: Panchagavya; VP:

combination of vermiwash and Panchagavya.

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For Earth’s Sake

a farmer to bioremediate the soil without

industrial intervention. She has assured to

share the technology freely with farmers’

after her thesis defense.

Phytonutrients, such as polyphenols

and antioxidants, protect both people and

plants. Several insecticides, herbicides, and

fungicides actually block a plant's ability to

manufacture these important plant

compounds. In a study of antioxidants in

organic and conventionally grown fruits,

scientists have recorded higher

concentrations of vitamin C, vitamin E, and

other antioxidants in organic foods

(Coghlan, 2001). It appears that organically

grown fruits develop more antioxidants as a

defense and repair mechanism against

insects when grown without the use of


Most changes in agricultural

technology especially after the green

revolution have ecological effects on soil

organisms that can affect higher plants and

animals, including man. Concentrating just

on productivity has robbed human care for

the soil.

Traditional songs in Tamil state that

in a plant, especially in cereals, “the roots

are for the soil, the stems for the cattle, and

the pinnacles for human consumption”.

Following the holistic practice of organic

farming takes care of the soil which in turn

takes care of the plant and not as in chemical

farming where we may tend to ignore the

soil and take care of the plant. A plant taken

care, nursed and nourished by the soil has

excellent potential and potency for the

consumer (Ismail, 2005).

Though animal wastes are largely

used in organic farms unfortunately

intensive farming activities have eliminated

the need of animals on farm.

Organic farming is not a system of

farming but a culture by itself. It is not

addition of manure or botanical extracts that

enables organic farming, but a way of life.


There are several such practices that today

are classified as alternative systems of

farming in contrast to the conventional

farming alias-chemical farming. These

alternative systems are named as nonpoisonous

farming, biodynamic farming,

permaculture, natural farming, low external

input farming, eco-farming, biological

farming, or just organic farming. Such

systems consider soil health as their

prerequisite. In organic farming apart from

the use of manure/compost for soils,

botanical extracts for protection from pests,

bio-foliar sprays, native seed wealth,

biodiversity, mixed cropping, crop rotation,

gender participation, and associating animal

heads in farming form important

components. Foliar sprays like vermiwash

and Panchagavya have proved to be very

effective as excellent liquid sprays on any

crop. Traditional wisdom advocates the use

of cow dung and cow’s urine for manure and

pest control. Today there is an enormous

demand for organic food throughout the

world. Organically grown tea, coffee, spices,

flowers, fruits and several other end

products are in demand overseas. Organic

food provides wholesome meal including

essentials like Salicylic Acid, which is the

precursor of Aspirin.





Worm worked soils have burrows formed by

the earthworms. Bacteria richly inhabit these

burrows, also called as the drilospheres.

Water passing through these passages

washes the nutrients from these burrows to

the roots to be absorbed by the plants. This

principle is applied in the preparation of

vermiwash. Vermiwash is a very good foliar


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For Earth’s Sake

Vermiwash units can be set up either

in barrels or in buckets or even in small

earthen pots. It is the principle that is

important. The procedure explained here is

for setting up of a 250 litre barrel. An empty

barrel with one side open is taken. On the

other side, a hole is made to accommodate

the vertical limb of a 'T' jointed tube in a

way that about half to one inch of the tube

projects into the barrel. To one end of the

horizontal limb is attached a tap. The other

end is kept closed. This serves as an

emergency opening to clean the 'T' jointed

tube if it gets clogged.

Setting up of a vermiwash unit

The entire unit is set up on a short pedestal

made of few bricks to facilitate easy

collection of vermiwash. Keeping the tap

open, a 25 cm layer of broken bricks or

pebbles is placed. A 25 cm layer of coarse

sand then follows the layer of bricks. Water

is then made to flow through these layers to

enable the setting up of the basic filter unit.

On top of this layer is placed a 30 to 45 cm

layer of loamy soil. It is moistened and into

this is introduced about 50 numbers each of

the surface (epigeic) and sub-surface

(anecic) earthworms. Cattle dung pats and

hay is placed on top of the soil layer and

gently moistened. The tap is kept open for

the next 15 days. Water is added every day

to keep the unit moist.

On the 16th day, the tap is closed

and on top of the unit a metal container or

mud pot perforated at the base as a sprinkler

is suspended. Five (5) litres of water (the

volume of water taken in this container is

one fiftieth of the size of the main container)

is poured into this container and allowed to

gradually sprinkle on the barrel overnight.

This water percolates through the compost,

the burrows of the earthworms and gets

collected at the base. The tap of the unit is

opened the next day morning and the


vermiwash is collected. The tap is then

closed and the suspended pot is refilled with

5 litres of water that evening to be collected

again the following morning. Dung pats and

hay may be replaced periodically based on

need. The entire set up may be emptied and

reset between 10 and 12 months of use.

Vermiwash is diluted with water

(10%) before spraying. This has been found

to be very effective on several plants. If

need be vermiwash may be mixed with

cow's urine and diluted (1 litre of

vermiwash, 1 litre of cow's urine and 8 litres

of water) and sprayed on plants to function

as an effecting foliar spray and pest

repellent. Instead of a drum the same can

also be prepared in plastic buckets or even in

flower pots as containers.



Biogas slurry or cow dung

Cow’s urine

Cow’s milk

Curd from cow’s milk

Ghee from cow’s butter

Sugarcane juice

Tender coconut water


5 kg

3 litres

2 litres

2 litres

1 litre

3 litres

3 litres

12 numbers

First mix cow dung with ghee and

small quantity of cow’s urine. Leave this

dough for 3 days. Then place this in a broad

mouthed mud pot or a cement tank and add

the remaining ingredients. Mix well by hand

and without closing with lid keep in shade.

Daily morning and evening mix well by

hand. In about 10 days panchagavya will be

ready. If you mix it daily with hand or with

a wooden ladle it would keep well for a

month. For use prepare a 3-5% solution.

Spray as foliar spray only in the morning or


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For Earth’s Sake



Fish (unused raw parts) - 1 kg

Jaggery- 1 kg

Water - 5 litres

Container - 10 litre

Mix first two in container. Cover

with gunny or cloth tightly, prevent from

flies. Second day add about 5 litres of water

and mix well. Mix well 3 times a day for

first 5 days. Leave undisturbed then for 10

days. Decant, dissolve 100 to 150 ml of this

in 10 litres of water and use as soil

conditioner as well as foliar spray.

Concentrate can be stored for three months



Pumpkin 3.0 kg

Banana 3.0 kg

Papaya 3.0 kg

Molasses or Jaggery 3.0 kg


Eggs 5.0 numbers


Water 10 liters (nonchlorinated)

25-liter plastic container with a lid

Cut the three vegetables into small

pieces. Transfer these pieces into the

container – mix Molasses or Jaggery (nonchlorinated)

in little water and add – to this

add 10 liters of water – break and add the 5

eggs into it. Mix all the contents. Leave the

container well closed with the lid. Open lid

after ten days there should be white foam on

top, if not there add some more Molasses or

Jaggery. Check after 20 days, again after 30

days. Mix well after 30 days and leave it

closed. After a total of 45 days decant the

solution this is Farmer’s EM. Dissolve 200


ml in 10 liters of water and spray or mix 10

liters in water for one acre.


Organic agriculture is defined as "a holistic

food production management system, which

promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem

health, including biodiversity, biological

cycles and soil biological activity. It

emphasizes the use of management practices

in preference to the use of off-farm inputs,

taking into account that regional conditions

require locally adapted systems. This is

accomplished by using, where possible,

agronomic, biological and mechanical

methods, as opposed to using synthetic

materials, to fulfill any specific function

within the system." (FAO/WHO Codex

Alimentarius Commission).

Through its holistic nature, organic

farming integrates wild biodiversity, agrobiodiversity

and soil conservation, and takes

low-intensity, extensive farming one step

further by eliminating the use of chemical

fertilizers, pesticides and genetically

modified organisms (GMOs), which is not

only an improvement for human health, but

also for the fauna and flora associated with

the farm and farm environment. Organic

farming enhances soil structures, conserves

water and ensures the conservation and

sustainable use of biodiversity. Agricultural

contaminants such as inorganic fertilizers,

herbicides and insecticides from

conventional agriculture are a major concern

all over the world. Eutrophication, the

suffocation of aquatic plants and animals

due to rapid growth of algae, referred to as

"algal blooms", are literally killing lakes,

rivers and other bodies of water. Persistent

herbicides and insecticides can extend

beyond target weeds and insects when

introduced into aquatic environments. These

chemicals have accumulated up the food

chain whereby top predators often consume

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For Earth’s Sake

toxic dosages. Organic agriculture as

defined by IFOAM restores the

environmental balance and has none of these

or other such deleterious effects on the


Pesticides have been in use in

agriculture since Second World War and,

from the very beginning, there have been

concerns about the commercialization of

chemical pesticides. Rachel Carson’s book

“Silent Spring” published in 1964 brought

out the scientific certainties of the impacts

of pesticides on environment. The very first

insecticide of World War-II vintage, DDT

was banned in the developed world in the

1970s but continued to be used in India till

the 1990s. The infamous Bhopal tragedy of

1984 in India was an eye opener to a larger

section of people in India and abroad.

According to research on health

disorders resulting from petroleum-based

chemicals used in consumer products and

job environments are available from the link Petroleum based

chemicals are being found to cause

significant attritional effects to the nervous

system and immune system after prolonged

exposure. Illnesses identified in the medical

research include adult and child cancers,

numerous neurological disorders, immune

system weakening, autoimmune disorders,

asthma, allergies, infertility, miscarriage,

and child behavior disorders including

learning disabilities, mental retardation,

hyperactivity and ADD (attention deficit

disorders). Petroleum based chemicals are

believed to cause these problems by a

variety of routes including - impairing

proper DNA (Gene) expression, weakening

DNA Repair, accelerating gene loss,

degeneration of the body's detoxification

defenses (liver and kidneys) as well as

gradual weakening of the brain's primary

defense - (the Blood Brain Barrier).

For nearly five decades, the public

and farmers have been told that chemical


pesticides are essential for modern farming

and to feed the world's population, when this

isn't true. Pesticides weaken the ecosystem

which had sustained human agriculture for

thousands of years, damaging soil microbes

and eliminating beneficial insects and

predators. In addition, pests continually

mutate to become pesticide resistant.

Despite a 10-fold increase in insecticide use

in recent years, studies have shown a

proliferation in types of pests by 30%.

Governments are marking heavy

budgets towards medical expenditures, when

concentrating on healthy food can be an

answer. “Prevention is better than cure” and

hence the policy of the Governments

towards agriculture should be suitably

modified to promote as well as protect nonchemical

farming. The question frequently

asked is as to where to get the quantity of

manure. The answer here lies in composting.

Large quantities of organic wastes from

agriculture as well as market wastes can

easily be converted to manure, without

much investment costs. This also promotes

local based industry for composting.

Organic foliar sprays as well as pest

repellents can also be prepared at the local

level. It can also generate opportunities for a

large number of youth and women at rural


Organic agriculture contributes to

food and environment security by a

combination of many features, most notably


‣ increasing yields in low-input areas.

‣ conserving biodiversity and natural

resources on the farm and in

surrounding area.

‣ increasing income by reducing input


‣ recycling organic waste for manure

production, solving waste


‣ boosting micro-enterprises and rural


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For Earth’s Sake

‣ protecting the health of the farmers

and the consumers.

‣ producing safe and varied food.

‣ being sustainable in the long term.

Organic agriculture should therefore be

an integral part of any agricultural policy

aiming for food security, and it is time that

the Government takes positive action in this


Healthy soils support healthy produce.

Personal observations and research have

indicated that not just addition of organic

inputs but the presence of soil biota in the

soil, in fact, enhances the produce in its

quantity and quality. Thus it is very much

confirmed that “earthworms are the pulse of

the soil, healthier the pulse, healthier the

soil”. Let’s put our hands together for

earth’s sake.


Sincere thanks and acknowledge the

contributions of all my students who built up

the entire theme of VERMITECH since

1978 to 2016. Most data here have been

quoted from the works of my former

research scholars whom I had supervised, Dr

Priscilla Jebakumari, Dr Dhakshayani

Ganesh, Dr Thangaraj, Mr. Sheik Ali, Mr. P

Jeyaprakash and Ms. Ramalakshmi; and a

large number of practicing farmers, my

sincere thanks to all of them.


Delhaize, E., Ryan, P.R. and Randall, P.J.

(1993). Aluminum tolerance in Wheat

(Triticum aestivum L.) (II. Aluminumstimulated

excretion of malic Acid

from root apices). Plant Physiology

103, 695-702.

Dhakshayani, C. (2008). Microbeearthworm

interactions and impact of

the exotic earthworm (Eudrilus


eugeniae Kinberg) on endemic

earthworms (Perionyx excavatus

Perrier and Lampito mauritii Kinberg)

based on microbial community

structure. Ph.D., Thesis, University of

Madras, India.

Gupta, P.K. (2001). Handbook of soil,

fertilizer and manure. Pub. Agro

Botanica, India, p 258-307.

Haynes, R.J. and Swift, R.S. (1990).

Stability of soil aggregates in relation

to organic constituents and soil water

content. J. Soil Sci. 41, 73-83.

Imaishi, H. and Petkova-Andonova, M.

(2007). Molecular cloning of

CYP76B9, a cytochrome P450 from

Petunia hybrida, catalyzing the

omega-hydroxylation of capric acid

and lauric acid. Biosci. Biotechnol.

Biochem. 71, 104-113.

Ismail, S.A. (2005). The Earthworm Book.

Other India Press, Goa, India, p. 101.

Jeyaprakash, P. (2009). Biocontrol of the

white grub (Leucopholis coneophora)

in vegetable plantation - an applied

biotechnological approach. MSc

Dissertation. University of Madras,


Lavelle, P., Melendez, G., Pashanasi, B.,

Szott, L. and Schaefer, R. (1992a).

Nitrogen mineralization and

reorganization in casts of the

geophagous tropical earthworm



(Glossoscolecidae). Biol. Fertil. Soil

14, 49-53.

Lavelle, P., Blanchart, E., Martin, E.,

Spain, A.V. and Martin, S. (1992b).

Impact of soil fauna on the properties

of soils in the humids tropics. In:

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ong>Focusong> Environ (2016)

For Earth’s Sake

Segoe S (ed) Myths and sciences of

soils of the tropics. Soil Sci Soc Am

Spec Publ. 29, 157–185.

Parle, J.N. (1963a). Microorganisms in the

intestines of earthworms. J. Gen

Microbiol. 31, 1-11.

Parle, J.N. (1963b). A micribiological study

of earthworm casts. J. Gen Microbiol,

31, 13-22.

Prasad, R. and Power, F.J. (1997). Soil

fertility for sustainable agriculture.

Lewis Publishers. p 110-127.

Priscilla J. (2006). Studies on the



vermicompost and its relevance in soil

health. Ph.D., Thesis, University of

Madras, India.

Satchell, J.E. and Martin, K. (1984).

Phosphatase activity in earthworm

faeces. Soil Biol. Biochem. 16, 191-



Sheik, A. (2009). Molecular studies in

identifying the potential of Vermiwash

- an organic liquid biofertilizer. MSc

Dissertation. University of Madras,


Thangaraj, R. (2006). Studies on the

influence of “fauna based”

biofertilizers (vermiwash, effective

microorganisms, panchagavya) on

plants. Ph.D., Thesis, University of

Madras, India.

Tiquia, S.M., Wan, J.H.C. and Tam,

N.F.Y. (2002). Microbial population

dynamics and enzyme activities during

composting. Compost Science and

Utilization, 10, 150–161.

Tuomela, M., Vikman, M., Hatakka, A.

and Itavaara, M., (2000).

Biodegradation of lignin in a compost

environment, a review. Bioresource

Technology 72, 169-183.

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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P16-30

Integrated Rice-Fish Farming: A New Avenue for Sustainable


M. Aminur Rahman 1, * , Md. Shamim Parvez 1 and Kasi Marimuthu 2

1 Laboratory of Marine Biotechnology, Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400

UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; 2 Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied Sciences,

AIMST University, 08100 Bedong, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia

*Corresponding author; Email: /


Rice and fish are the key components of global food security. They are the main protein sources

in the daily diets of around three billion peoples, especially in Asia. Integrated fish farming is a

technique of fish culture with other organisms i.e. plants or animals to get maximum output

through minimum input supply in a shorter time frame. The production of rice and fish do not

need to be integrated by always producing the two crops simultaneously, but may be done by

alternating production: rice can be grown in the rainy season and fish in the dry season, or the

other way round. In areas where rice production is not profitable in all seasons, fish production

forms an alternative source of income from the field. However, in order to meet the global demand

of food and nutrition for the increasing populations, there is therefore a need to increase

rice and fish production simultaneously. Integrated rice-fish farming can play an important role

in increasing food production as this system is better than rice monoculture in terms of resource

utilization, crop diversity, farm productivity in biomass or in economics, and both the quality and

quantity of the food products. Integration of fish in paddy fields is ecologically sound because

fish improves soil fertility by generating nitrogen and phosphorus. Fish also control weeds by

feeding on weed roots and offer an extra service by tilling the soil around the rice plants. The

fish feces are used as organic manure that provide essential nutrients required to grow healthy

rice plants. Furthermore, integrated rice and fish culture optimizes the benefits of scarce land and

water resources through complementary use, and exploits the synergies between fish and plant.

Hence, it could be concluded that integrated rice-fish farming can help the global communities

keep pace with the current demand for food authenticity through sustainable rice and fish production

in an ecofriendly environment.

Keywords: Environment; food authenticity; integrated farming; rice-fish; sustainability


Rice-based fish farming is the main source

of earning in many parts of the world, despite

it is not widely practiced around the

world. Most information comes from Asian

countries, particularly Philippines, Indonesia

and Japan where traditional rice farming

methods have been refined over centuries.

There is an estimated 81 million ha of irri-

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

gated rice lands worldwide, with an additional

11 million ha of flood prone land under

rice cultivation (Halwart and Gupta,

2004). Presently the system of rice-fish is

being practiced in Bangladesh, Cambodia,

China (1.2 million ha), Egypt (173000 ha),

Indonesia (138,000 ha), Republic of Korea,

Madagascar (13,000 ha), Thailand (3 million

ha) and Vietnam (40,000 ha) (Halwart and

Gupta, 2004). The practice supports a large

share of the rural population in South,

Southeast and East Asia and in parts of West

Africa. In these places, rain-fed rice fields

are designed to store water for extended periods,

creating aquatic ecosystems with

many similarities to natural floodplains

(BRKB, 2010). These floodplain habitats of

rice are later stocked by fish and grown

throughout the wet season. Fishing from

these rice-based farming systems is often

carried out on regular, occasional or parttime

basis, making a significant contribution

to livelihoods of poor farmers. However,

the input cost in terms of feed, labor and infrastructure

for rice-based fish farming is

often a barrier for poor and marginal

farmers. There exist many possible

suggestive approaches to overcome one or

more such type of barriers, but all these are

still in conceptual form. However, Apatani

farmers from Lower Subansiri district in

Arunachal Pradesh, India have practiced a

very unique traditional rice-based fish farming

practice in their waterlogged rice-fields,

which not only gives good economic return

to support their families’ demands but also

exposes a very low-cost fish farming technology

for the rest of the world (Saikia et

al., 2008).

Rice-based fish farming is the main

source of earning in many parts of Asia. The

lands and water resources of many countries

are not fully utilized; however, there exists

tremendous scopes for increasing fish production

by integrating aquaculture with agriculture

(Nhan et al., 2007). Earlier, this

Rahman et al

practice began to receive attention in the

1980s. However, the new technology was

perceived to have potential for multiple environmental

benefits in Asia. Integrated ricefish

farming is also being regarded as an important

element of integrated pest management

(IPM) in rice crops (Halwart and Gupta,

2004; Nabi, 2008). Moreover, fish plays

a significant role in controlling aquatic

weeds, algae and snails, and hence, reduces

the need for chemical spray leading to better

farm economics within ecologically-sound

low-cost, low-risk option

for poor rice farmers in Bangl a-

desh and elsewhere. Thus, integration

of fish with rice farming improves

diversification, intensification

and productivity of farms (Ahmed et al.,

2008; Berg, 2001). The multiple benefits of

the integration between rice and fish have

been globally documented and could be

summarized in enhancing farm productivity

either in biomass or in economics. Fish in

rice field improves soil fertility through their

organic waste. Many reports suggest that

integrated rice-fish farming is ecologically

sound because fish improves soil fertility by

generating nitrogen and phosphorus (Parvez

et al., 2006). More importantly, the integrated

rice-fish leads to the production of a more

balanced diet (rice) as a main source of carbohydrate

and fish which is an important

animal protein source required for the health

and well-being of rural households. The integration

of aquaculture can increase rice

yields by 8 to 15% with an additional average

fish production of 260 kg/ha (Lightfoot,

1992). Based on field surveys and studies, it

has been observed that farmers’ households

usually inclined to eat small fish than sell

them in the market and hence, fish consumption

contributes significantly in the nutrition

of children and lactating mothers to avoid

child blindness as well as to reduce infant


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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

Rice and fish have been essential

part of the life of Asian people from the prehistoric

time. In respects to Bangladesh, rice

is the main agricultural crop with an annual

production of 29 million tons per year

(BRKB, 2010), while annual fish production

is 2.7 million tons (DoF, 2010). The demand

for rice and fish is constantly rising in Bangladesh

with nearly three million people being

added each year to its population

(Chowdhury, 2009). Nevertheless, integrated

rice-fish farming offers a solution to this

problem by contributing to food and income.

Although rice-fish technology has been

demonstrated successfully and a considerable

number of farmers have been trained

through various projects. Traditionally wild

fish have been harvested from rice fields,

but the introduction of high yielding varieties

(HYV) of rice and accompanying pesticides

have reduced fish yields (Gupta et al.,

2002). However, important changes have

taken place through IPM that has reduced

the use of pesticides in rice fields (Berg,

2001; Lu and Li, 2006).


Fish is the main source of animal protein,

providing an average of 8.4 g per day, or

13.3 % of the average per capita total intake

of protein (63 g) (BBS, 2011). Not only the

adequate supply of carbohydrate, but also

the supply of animal protein is significant

through rice-fish farming. Fish, particularly

small fish, are rich in micronutrients and vitamins,

and thus human nutrition can be

greatly improved through fish consumption

(Kunda et al., 2008; Frei and Becker, 2005).

It can optimize the utilization of resources

through the complementary use of land and

water (Giap et al., 2005). Integrated rice-fish

farming is also ecologically sound because

fish can improve soil fertility by increasing

the availability of nitrogen and phosphorus

(Dugan et al., 2006). The natural aggrega-

Rahman et al

tion of fish in rice fields inspires the combination

of rice farming with fish to increase

productivity (Gurung and Wagle, 2005). It

has been found from several studies that

rice-cum-fish culture becomes able to enhance

the net benefit by 64.4% and yield by

5% (Parvez et al., 2012). Therefore, it has

been evidenced that the rice-fish integration

is quite attractive both in environmental and

economic point of view. Fish in rice-based

agriculture system can enhance income at a

higher rate than crops alone thereby it can

reduce poverty, malnutrition and


reduce gap between supply vs demand

of food fish

lessen pressure on capture fisheries

generate foreign exchange earnings

provide employment and career opportunities

provide additional food/alternative

income to fishermen and farmers

provide business & investment opportunity.

control mollusks and insects which

are harmful to rice


a) Traditional practices:

Integrated fish farming is a technique of fish

culture with other organisms (animal/s or

plant/s). More production can be achieved in

rice-fish culture in comparison to the rice

culture alone. The history of Rice fish culture

is quite old and first started in an ancient

China about 200 years ago. In course

of time, this practice was introduced to Indonesia,

Vietnam, Thailand, India, Bangladesh

and many other countries of the world.

Lately, azolla is cultured with rice-fish in

China. In traditional system, several small

ditches were prepared in the rice field and

tree branches or bushes were placed for creating

suitable artificial habitat to attract wild

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

fishes (Figure 1). Sometimes fry of Cyprinus

carpio was stocked. Production was much

low and it was about 50kg/ha.

b) Modern practices

Since nineties, several NGOs have been

working on rice fish culture and both nursery

and table fish are produced through these

techniques. Prawn species Macrobrachium

rosenbergii is now also stocked for more

profit and diversified product. Major fish

species are used Labeo rohita (rui), Catla

catla (Catla), Cirrhina mrigala (Mrigel),

Cyprinus carpio (Common carp), Hypophthalmichthys

molitrix (silver carp), Tilapia

sp. (Tilapia), Puntius gonionotus (Thai

barb) and M. rosenbergii (giant fresh water

prawn). The different fish species, suitable

and practicing nowadays in rice-fish integration,

are shown in Figure 2. In this system,

the production of fish is much higher than

traditional system which is about 200 kg/ha


Fish culture with rice can be practiced in

two waysi.

Concurrent system – culture of ricefish


ii. Alternative system – Fish culture after

harvesting rice

i. Concurrent systems

Rahman et al

Concurrent rice-fish farming is generally

practiced during wet (aman) season in moderate

to low paddy fields where water logging

exists for 4-5 months naturally (Fig. 3).

Rearing of fish is possible by this way until

rice plantation in the next season. Carp and

barb species (either singly or with different

combinations and ratios) are suitable for

stocking but grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon

idella) can also be stocked. In case of grass

carp stocking, precaution must be taken so

that this fish cannot eat young paddy.

ii. Alternative culture system

In alternative culture system (Figure 4),

fishes are stocked in the paddy fields after

harvesting rice from the land. Rearing of

fishes up to 6-8 months (until plantation for

the next crop season) is possible in this system.

Carp and barb species are suitable but

grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) can

also be stocked as a candidate in this composite

culture system.


Management activities for fish culture in

rice fields include site selection, developing

infrastructure, shading/sheltering, stocking,

Figure 1: Pictures showing traditional system of rice-fish culture.

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

Rahman et al

Puntius gonionotus

Clarias batrachus

Oreochromis niloticus

Cyprinus carpio

Labeo rohita

Labeo calbasu

Cirrhinus mrigala

Anabas testudineus

Channa striatus

Figure 2: Pictures showing different cultivable fish species for rice-fish integration.

Figure 3: Pictures showing concurrent culture system of fish in rice fields.

and feeding, water quality control, harvesting

and restocking. Practices used for selecting

fish species as well as number of fishes

to be stocked depending on the locations and

availability of fish species.

a) Site selection

Water holding capacity of the selected plot’s

soil must be good enough so that soil can

hold water easily. Loamy or clay-loamy

soils are suitable for rice fish culture. Select-

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

ed plot should be low land and should contain

water naturally for 7-10 months but

must be secured from flooding.

b) Developing infrastructure

Traditional rice paddies normally require

modification for concurrent culture of fish.

One important modification is the deepened

part of the paddy field to serve as a fish shelter

and harvest area (Figure 5). The depended

areas are called trenches, canals, channels

or sumps. Construction and placement may

vary, but these deepened areas provide several

critical elements for successful rice-fish


‣ Refuge when the water level is lowered

‣ Passage ways for fish to find food

‣ Easier harvest of fish when the paddy

is drained.

At least a single ditch must be excavated

in the rice fields. Ditch or trenches should be

about 0.5 m to 1.0 m water depth and at least

Rahman et al

1.0 m wide. Ideally, no part of the paddy

should be more than 10.0 m away from the

trench. To maximize rice production, the

trench area should not be more than 10% of

rice plot area. Adequate water should be

available to maintain a depth of 10 to 15 cm

in planted areas with rice once fish have introduced.

This ditch will serve as shelter

during hot season and make the harvesting

easier. Several canals should be dug connecting

ditch for free movement of fishes

(Figure 6). Enough space must be left from

land boundary so that dyke would not be

broken. Ditch can be excavated in different

positions of the plot; some models are

shown in Figure 6.

c) Sheltering for prawn

In prawn culture, it is essential to provide

some sort of substances which will serve as

shelter for prawn (

As prawn change its shell as growth advances

(i.e. molting), it remains very

Figure 4: Pictures showing alternative culture system of fish in rice fields.

Figure 5: Pictures showing preparation of set-up for the rice-fish integrated plot.

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

Rahman et al

Figure 6: Pictures showing different canaling systems for fish and prawn in rice field.

susceptible to attack by other animals during

molting period. Substances like coconut

branches, palm leafs or other tree branches

are used in the water for sheltering of

prawns (Figure 7).

e) Rice plot preparation

Border, dyke of the land needs to be constructed

(if necessary) and weeds must be

controlled and excess bottom mud should be

removed (Figure 9). Predatory or unwanted

fish species or other animals will be removed

from the culture plot. Lime (1

kg/decimal; 2-3kg/decimal for red soil) and

fertilizers (usually cow dung, urea and TSP)

should be applied at a proper dose.

Figure 7: Pictures showing shelter made

for fish and prawn in rice field.

d) Shading

Shading is essential during high temperature

and excess rainfall to save stocked species

from unfavorable condition. Bamboo splits

made mat, coconut or palm branch, cultivation

of vegetables on rack on dyke (Figure 8)

can provide shade for the fishes


Figure 8: Pictures showing shad set-up for

fish and prawn in rice field ditch.

f) Nursery program in the rice fields

It is an optional measure to prepare nursery

area for temporary rearing of prawn or

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

shrimp PL. Around 10-15% area of the total

field can be used as nursery (Fig. 10).

Nursery is often referred to as “Pocket

Gher”. Generally, shrimp or prawns PL are

reared in the nursery for 20-25 days. Stocking

density should be 1500-2000 PL (1.5-2

cm in size) per decimal area


g) Stocking of fish fry/fingerlings/prawn

PL in rice fields

Rahman et al

Prawn PL needs to be stocked during evening

as they are more sensitive than the fin

fish fry that can tolerate sudden changes in

temperature and dissolve oxygen level in

water (Figure 11). If they are stocked during

evening, the released PL will get more time

at night to adapt with the environment.

Stocking density will be 10000-15000 PL/

hectare area (

In case of finfish, fry can be stocked in

the morning or in the afternoon (Figure 11).

Figure 9: Pictures showing preparation of rice-fish plots.

Figure 10: Pictures showing nursery of fish and prawn PL in rice fields.

Figure 11: Stocking of fish fingerlings and prawn PL in rice plots.

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

Rahman et al

Stocking density will be maintained at 20-25

individuals/decimal for monoculture depending

on the level of water and related

factors. In case of mixed or polyculture,

stocking density should be maintained at 20

individuals / decimal. Stocking size should

be 5-8 cm depending on the types of fish

species. One thing should be kept in mind

that it would not be very wise decision to

stock prawn and other bottom dweller fin

fish species together as they can make competition

each other for food and space.

h) Management of rice field wild fisheries

Wild fish can be encouraged to enter into

rice fields by keeping the entrances of the

fields open, and bunds low (Figure 12).

They can be attracted by placing branches in

the field which provide shelter for the fish or

by placing buffalo or cow skins to attract

catfish and eels. Wild fish may be harvested

from rice fields by netting, hooking, trapping,

harpooning, throwing nets, or by

draining out the field. As water levels fall,

fish may be channeled into adjacent trap

pond areas where they can be held alive until

required. Black fish from trap ponds are

often marketed live in local markets.

Figure 12: Management of fishes in rice


i) Management of rice-fish culture

If water sources are more secured and the

risk of flooding is low, farmers may invest

in fish stock for their paddies or adjacent

pond areas. Fish can be stocked at rates of

0.25−1 fish/m 2 . In Cambodia, for example,

stocking rate is usually maintained at 2,500

common carp, 1,250 silver barb and 1,250

tilapias per hectare. Predatory fish, particularly

snakehead, should be absent from the

system when fish seed is introduced. If

available and economic, feed supplements

such as duckweed, termites, earthworms,

and rice bran can be supplied. Similar harvesting

methods as for rice field fisheries

can be used. Harvests usually include a percentage

of wild fish that have entered into

the system by themselves.

j) Paddy management

Naturally grown weeds in the field must be

eradicated and other harmful insect must be

controlled by IPM (Integrated Pest Management).

Water for rice-fish culture must

be free from toxicants such as insecticides.

In many areas of the world, concurrent ricefish

culture has abandoned because toxic

chemicals are used. Agricultural extension

specialists should be contacted for advice

before stocking fish in paddies supplied with

water from a communal irrigation source.

Irrigation water can easily be contaminated

by other farmers using chemicals in their

rice fields.

Rice husbandry practices that should be

followed include rat control, weeding, proper

spacing of seedlings, and proper fertilization.

Normal weeds control and fertilization

chemicals are not harmful to fish. Paddy

dikes should be high and strong enough to

hold water without leaking. Dikes made of

good quality clay are best.

k) Application of supplementary feed:

Supplementary feed needs to be supplied for

faster growth of stocked species (Figure 13).

Supplementary feed can be applied at 3-5%

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

weight of stocked biomass. If phytoplankton

feeder fish like silver carp stocked in the rice

field, no extra feeds will be required for fish.

Rahman et al

much possible by draining out (dewatering)

the water of the field.

n) Harvesting

Approximately 4–5 months of culturing, the

farmers usually harvest the rice first, and

then drain the rice field to gather the fish

into the ditch (Figure 16). Fish are harvested

from these places and then processed for

marketing and consuming.

Figure 13: Application of feed in the ditches

of the rice and fish or rice-fish rice fields

during rice fish integration.

l) Dyke cropping

Vegetables can be planted on dyke or by

making rack made of available materials

such as bamboo sticks, vegetables branches

without leaves, etc. (Figure 14).

m) Growth and health monitoring of fish

Regular sampling of stocked fish species is

very much necessary to monitor the growth,

or to test disease (Figure 15). This can be

done by using seine net in ditch after gathering

the fish there (in ditch). For maximum

benefit, stocked species must be harvested in

proper time. Harvesting (100%) is very

Figure 14: Dyke cropping in rice-fish fields.

o) Other considerations

Water control is crucial and rice

fields cannot be allowed to dry up

while fish stocks are present.

Stocked fish may escape if fields are

flooded. Flood control can be difficult

in rain fed rice systems.

Areas of rice fields deepened for fish

culture may result in less rice growing


Having fish present in rich fields

may help dissuade farmers from us-

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

ing pesticides. Pesticides have the

potential for poisoning fish and some

types can be absorbed by the fish and

then ingested by humans.

Rahman et al

would cause no transport problems and

would be mostly fresh and healthy.

The production of a fish crop between

the two rice crops provides the farmer

with an off-season job (Hora and Pillay,

1962). This can increase the income without

increasing expenses (Hickling, 1962). Apart

from the additional income available from

rizi-pisciculture (rotational culture of fish

and rice), the combined culture leads to a

reduction of labour in weeding and an increase

in the yield of paddy by 5 to 15%.

Figure 15: Fish health and growth



The benefits of rice-fish integration in terms

of productivity and economics are diverged

and well-documented. Coche, (1967) discusses

the socio-economic importance of

fish culture in rice fields and pointed out and

the deficit of animal protein in densely populated

rice growing areas. The fish grown in

the paddy fields will be ideal use of land and

would also be an easy source of cheap and

fresh animal proteins. Thus fish culture can

greatly contribute to the socio-economic

welfare, especially for rural populations of

developing countries. An added advantage

also is that unlike sea fish or other animal

proteins, the fish from local paddy fields

Figure 16: Pictures showing harvesting of

rice and fish.

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

The increasing rice production in the ricefish

integration is attributed to various factors

(Coche, 1967), namely,

a) reduction in the number of harmful insects,

such as paddy stem borers, whose

larvae are eaten by fish.

b) reduction in rat population due to increase

in the water level.

c) increase in organic fertilization by fish

excreta and remains of artificial feed.

d) better tilling of the rice seedlings due to

the activity of the fish.

e) increased mineralization of the organic

matter and increased aeration of the soil

resulting from the puddling of mud by

benthic feeders.

f) control of algae and weeds (by phytophagous

fish) which compete with rice for

light and nutrients.

g) fish stir up soil nutrients making them

more available for rice. This increases

rice production.



Wet (rain-fed) rice cultivation has been

practiced for at least 4000 years ago, and its

history indicates that rice farming is basically

sustainable. What is less certain is whether

the dramatic increases of rice production

made possible by the “green revolution” are

sustainable (Greenland, 1997). Global

warming, sea level rise, increased ultraviolet

radiation and even unavailability of water

are all expected to have an adverse impact

on rice production. However, such scenarios

are far the foreseeable future can be assumed

that rice farming will continue. Further,

it seems likely that the culture of fish in

rice farming makes the rice field ecosystem

more balanced and stable. With fish removing

the weeds and reducing the insects’ pest

population to tolerable levels, the poisoning

of the water and soil may be curtailed. In

Rahman et al

regards of sustainability of rice fish farming,

there should be needed -

• grant support

• ensuring Inputs (seeds, feeds, fish

fry/fingerlings) supply

• capacity building training

• technology dissemination

• value chain development

• creating marketing channel

• co-ordination, collaboration and


• creating net-mapping among different


• creating policy, dialog, scale in and



There is a need to refine rice-fish farming,

where the thrust is on improving fish production

without affecting rice production.

De La Cruz et al. (1992) had identified possible

areas and tropics for research for various

countries (De La Cruz et al., 1992).

Tropics common to several countries where

rice-fish farming is practiced or has high

potential are:

‣ Ecological studies specially on food

webs and nutrient cycle in a rice field


‣ Determination of the carrying capacity

and optimum stocking densities;

‣ Development of rice field hatchery

and/or nursery system;

‣ Development of rice-fish farming models

species to different agroclimatic


‣ Optimum fertilization rates and fertilization


‣ Evaluation of new fish species for rice

field culture;

‣ Evaluation of different fish species in

control of rice pests and diseases;

‣ Development of fish aggregating and

fish harvesting techniques for rice fields;

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Integrated Rice-Fish Farming

and optimal rice planting patterns for

rice-fish farming.

Other tropics identified are not necessarily

specific to rice-fish farming and may

be covered by regular aquaculture research

such as fish nutrition and feed development,

or in agronomy e.g. weed ecology and management.

Long-term “wish list” research includes

the development of new rice varieties

for different rice-fish systems.


To meet the increasing demand of food for

the over-increasing populations, there

should be needed to more increased rice and

fish productions. This document accomplishes

that rice-fish integration could be a

practical opportunity for farm diversification.

Such divergence will enhance food security.

Rice-fish integration makes the rice

field ecosystem with an efficiently and environmentally

comprehensive production system

for rice and fish. Rice monoculture cannot

alone provide a sustainable food supply,

while integrated rice-fish farming will be the

best in terms of resource utilization, productivity

and food supply. It should therefore be

recommended that integrated rice-fish farming

could be a sustainable alternative to rice

monoculture as more production and benefits

can be achieved in rice-fish culture

compared to the rice farming alone.


Ahmed, N., Ahammed, F. and Brakel, M.

V. (2008). An economic analysis of

freshwater prawn Macrobrachium

rosenbergii farming in Mymensingh,

Bangladesh. The World Aquaculture

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Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Ministry

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Berg, H. (2001). Pesticide use in rice and

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Institute, Gazipur, Bangladesh.

Chowdhury, M. R. (2009). Population

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Coche, A. G. (1967). Fish culture in rice

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B. A., Carangal, V. R. and Bimbao,

M. P. (1992). Rice-fish research and

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Dugan, P., Dey, M. M. and Sugunan, V.

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in tropical river basins: enhancing

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Giap, D. H., Yi, Y. and Lin, C. K. (2005).

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Greenland, D. J. (1997). The Sustainablity

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Gupta, M. V., Sollows, J. D., Mazid, M.

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Dey, M. M. (2002). Economics and

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Gurung, T. B. and Wagle, S. K. (2005).

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Halwart, M. and Gupta, M. V. (2004).

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Hickling, C. F. (1962). Fish culture. Faber

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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P31-37

Molecular Marker Techniques in Environmental Forensic


Narayanan Kannan

Institute for Graduate Studies, Taylor's University (Lakeside Campus), 47500, Subang Jaya, Selangor

Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Phone No.: +60 14 338 5307; Email:


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are anthropogenic contaminants found globally in water, ice,

soil, air and sediment. Modern analytical techniques allow us to determine these chemicals in

environmental matrices at parts per trillion levels or lower. Environmental forensic on PCBs

opens up new avenues of investigation such as transport and fate of water masses in oceans, sedimentation,

onset of primary production, migration of marine mammals, their population distribution

and pharmacokinetics of drugs inside organisms. By virtue of persistence, bioaccumulation,

bioconcentration and structure-activity relationship PCBs emerge as unconventional chemical

tracers of new sort.

Keywords: Anthropogenic contaminants; environmental forensic; metabolic slope; risk assessment;

PCBs; sea water; sediment; suspended particulate matter; TEQs; tracers


Since the beginning of industrial revolution

the number of synthesized chemicals keeps

increasing. Currently it is beyond three million

and is growing at a rate of several hundred

thousand a year of which 300-500

reach the stage of commercial production. It

is estimated that up-to one third of the total

production of these chemicals reaches the

environment. When out of place in the environment

these chemicals are called pollutants.

Measurement of these chemicals after

integrating with environmental matrix such

as sediment, biota, suspended particulate

matter (SPM) and even in water becomes

extremely complex demanding sophisticated

analytical techniques (Duinker et al., 1988;

Kannan et al., 1993; Li et al., 2007; Wang et

al., 2007).



Hence, environmental analytical chemists

focused mostly on a selected number of persistent

organic chemicals such as agrochemicals

(Aldrin, Dieldrin, Endrin, Heptachlor,

Chlordane, Chlordecone, Hexabromobiphenyl,


(HBCD), Hexabromodiphenyl ether and

heptabromodiphenyl ether, Hexachlorobenzene

(HCB), Hexachlorobutadiene, Alpha

hexachlorocyclohexane, Beta hexachlorocyclohexane,

Lindane, Mirex, Pentachlorobenzene,

Pentachlorophenol and its salts and

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Molecular Marker Techniques in Environ……

esters; Technical endosulfan and its related

isomers, Toxaphene), industrial chemicals

(Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Polychlorinated

naphthalenes (PCN), Polybrominated

diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), Perfluorooctanesulfonic

acid (PFOs) and/or unwanted

by-products of industrial processes

or combustion (Polychlorinated dibeno-pdioxins

(PCDDs), Polychlorinated dibenzofurans

(PCDFs) that are bioaccumulative

and have the potential to disturb biological

processes (EPA, 2002).



Among these persistent organic pollutants

(POPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

(Figure 1) are well characterized with reference

to their physico-chemical properties,

biological potencies and environmental occurrence/transport

and fate (Kannan, 2000;

Fiedler (UNEP site)).


Figure 1: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Thus, PCBs emerged as model substances,

representing a whole range of POPs.

PCBs are extremely bioaccumulative and

used in the study of migration of oceanic

wildlife such as whales (Subramanian et al.,

1988; Wania, 1998), their population distribution

(Mossner and Ballschmiter, 1997;

Bruhn et al., 1999) and their nursing activities

(Addison and Brodie, 1987; Beckmen et

al., 1999) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Biplot of principal

components 1 and 2

derived from correlation

matrix of mol% contributions

of CBs in the blubber

tissue of male and female

immature as well as male

mature harbour porpoises

from the Baltic Sea (B).,

North Sea (N)., and Arctic

waters (A). The CB numbers

represent the loadings

and B, N, A represent the

scores (from Bruhn et al.,


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Molecular Marker Techniques in Environ……

PCBs are widely used in understanding

the trophic and reproductive transfer of

persistence chemicals (Aguilar and Borrell,

1994; Kannan et al., 1995; Jackson and

Schindler, 1996; Kim et al., 2002). Fugacity

models are widely used in understanding the

hemispheric transfer of PCBs and the dynamics

behind long range transport (Wania

and Mackay, 1996). The structure biological

activity relationship based on the inherent

planar and globular nature of PCBs is useful

Figure 3: A) Vicinal atoms in the meta and

para positions. Overlapping covalent radii

for two ortho-Cl show that a planar configuration

is highly improbable when three or

four ortho-Cl are present. B) Vicinal H atoms

in the ortho and meta positions. Nonoverlapping

covalent radii for ortho-Cl and

ortho-H show that a planar configuration

causes a much lower energy barrier when

chlorine atoms do not oppose each other

(from Boon et al., 1992).


in understanding the phase I and phase II

metabolism in organisms including humans,

the enzyme induction and in-vitro and invivo

toxicities (Safe et al., 1985; Kannan et

al., 1989ab; Boon et al., 1992; Ishii and

Oguri, 2002) (Figure 3).

PCBs production history in the US is

also the history of industrial openness towards

safety issues and US chemical regulation

(Anonymous, 2007). Improvement in

the analytical chemistry of PCBs supported

the development of finger printing techniques,

chemometrics and over all awareness

on environmental forensic (Kannan et

al., 1992, 2007; Peré-Trepata et al., 2006).

The space and time integrated sampling

of surface sea water over oceanic transects

reveal pollution source, the physical

and biological status of the region (biological

blooms etc.) and prevailing currents that

bring the contaminants to that region

(Schulz-Bull et al., 1995; Kannan et al.,

1998; Yamashita et al., 2008; Kannan et al.,

2011). Deep water sampling devices when

applied for PCB studies help to understand

ocean structure and circulation (Schulz et al.,

1988; Petrick et al., 1996; Schulz-Bull et al.,

1998; Kannan et al., 1998).

A study on the vertical profile of

East Sea (Japan Sea) revealed the intrinsic

stratification of those deep waters, otherwise

revealed only by conventional tracers (radio

isotopes) (Figure 4). This unexpected finding

PCBs at a depth of 3000 m demonstrated

that our oceans are much more dynamic than

it was thought before and the entire ocean

circulation has speeded up in recent years

due to global warming (Kannan et al., 1998).

Passive air samplers when deployed northsouth

in open oceans or oceanic islands

and/or systematic water sampling in the

open ocean in north-south directions will

greatly enhance such predictions.

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Molecular Marker Techniques in Environ……


Figure 4: Presence of PCBs at 3500 m in Japan Sea indicates faster movements (using convection

and horizontal currents) of these chemicals in ocean circulation (Kannan et al., 1998).


Addison, R. F. and Brodie, P. F. (1987).

Transfer of organochlorine residues

from blubber through the circulatory

system in milk in the lactating grey

seal, Halichoerus grypus. Canadian J.

Fish. Aqua. Sci. 44, 782–786.

Aguilar, A. and Borrell, A. (1994). Reproductive

transfer and variation of body

load of organochlorine pollutants with

age in fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus).

Arch. Environ. Toxicol. 27,


Anonymous (2007). The History of PCBs:

When Were Health Problems Detected?



(last accessed on August 31,


Beckmen, K.B., Ylitalo, G.M., Towell,

R.G., Krahn, M.M., O'Hara, T.M.

and Blake, J.E. (1999). Factors affecting

organochlorine contaminant

concentrations in milk and blood of

northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus)

dams and pups from St George Island,

Alaska. Sci Total Environ. 23:183-200.

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ong>Focusong> Environ (2016)

Molecular Marker Techniques in Environ……

Boon, J.P., van Arnhem, E., Jansen, S.,

Kannan, N., Petrick, G., Schulz, D.,

Duinker, J., Reijnders, P.J.H. and

Goksoyr, A. (1992). The toxicokinetics

of PCBs in marine mammals with

special reference to possible interactions

of individual congeners with the

cytochrome P-450 dependent

monooxygenase system - an overview.

In: Persistent pollutants in marine

ecosystems C.H.Walker and

D.R.Livingstone (eds.). Pergamon

Press, New York 1992. pp. 119-159.

Bruhn, R., Kannan, N., Petrick, G.,

Schulz-Bull, D.E. and Duinker, J.C.

(1999). Persistent organic contaminants

in harbour porpoises from the

North Sea, the Baltic Sea and Arctic

waters. Sci. Total Environ. 237/238,


Duinker, J. C., D. E. Schulz. and Petrick,

G. (1988). Multidimensional gas

chromatography with electron capture

detection for the determination of toxic

congeners in PCB mixtures. Anal.

Chem. 60, 478-82.

Environmental Protection Agency (2002).

Persistent Organic Pollutants: A Global

Issue, A Global Response.

(last accessed August 30,



Ishii, Y. and Oguri, K. (2002). Liver Proteins

that are Sensitive to a Dioxin-

Like Toxic Compound, Coplanar Polychlorinated

Biphenyl, 3,3',4,4',5-

Pentachlorobiphenyl. J. Health. Sci. 48,


Jackson, L. and Schindler, D.E. (1996).

Field estimates of net trophic transfer

of PCBs from prey fishes to Lake

Michigan salmonoids. Environ. Sci.

Technol. 30, 1861-1865.

Kannan, N., Wakimoto, T. and Tatsukawa,

R. (1989a). Possible involvement

of frontier (π) electrons in the metabolism

of polychlorinated biphenyls

(PCBs). Chemosphere 18, 9-10.

Kannan, N., Tanabe, S., Ono, M. and

Tatsukawa, R. (1989b). Critical evaluation

of PCB toxicity in Terrestrial

and marine mammals: Increasing impact

of non-ortho and mono-ortho coplanar

PCBs from land to ocean. Arch.

Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 18, 850-


Kannan, N., Schulz, D.E., Petrick, G. and

Duinker, J.C. (1992). High resolution

PCB analysis of Kanechlor, Phenoclor

and Sovol mixtures using multidimensional

gas chromatography. Intern.

J. Environ. Anal. Chem. 47, 201-


Kannan,N., Petrick,G., Schultz-Bull,D.E.

and Duinker, J.C. (1993). Chromatographic

techniques in accurate analysis

of chlorobiphenyls. J.Chromatgr. 642,


Kannan, N., Reusch, T.B.H., Schulz-Bull,

D.E., Petrick, G. and Duinker, J.C

(1995). Chlorobiphenyls: Model

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compounds for metabolism in food

chain organisms and their potential use

as ecotoxicological stress indicators by

application of the metabolic slope

concept. Environ. Sci. Technol. 29,


Kannan, N.., Yamashita, N.., Petrick, G.

and Duinker, J.C. (1998). Polychlorinated

Biphenyls (PCBs) and

Nonylphenols in the Sea of Japan. Environ.

Sci. Technol. 32, 1747-1753.

Kannan, N. (2000). Non-ortho and monoortho

substituted PCBs. In: The Handbook

of Environmental Chemistry. Vol.

3: Anthropogenic compounds.

Paasivirta, J. (eds.). Springer-Verlag,

Berlin. pp. 127-156.

Kannan, N., Hong, S.H., Shim, W.J. and

Oh. J.R. (2007). A congener-specific

survey for Polychlorinated dibenzo-pdioxins

(PCDDs) and Polychlorinated

dibenzofurans (PCDFs) contamination

in Masan Bay, Korea. Chemosphere

68, 1613–1622.

Kim, M, Jin Y, Han, G. M, Jung, J. H,

Hong, S. H, Yim, U. H, Shim WJ,

Choi, D. L and Kannan, N. (2016).

Origins of suspended particulate matter

revealed by the sterol distribution

in the low salinity water mass observed

in the offshore East China Sea.

Marine Pollution Bulletin. 108 (1–2),



Li, D.H., Dong, M., Shim, W.J. and Kannan,

N. (2007). Application of pressurized

fluid extraction technique in

the gas chromatography–mass spectrometry

determination of sterols from

marine sediment samples. J. Chromat.

A. 1160, 64-70.

Kim, S. K., Lee, D. S. and Oh, J. R. (2002).

Characteristics of trophic transfer of

polychlorinated biphenyls in marine

organisms in Incheon North Harbor,

Korea. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 21,


Mossner, S. and Ballschmiter, K. (1997).

Marine mammals as global pollution

indicators for organochlorines. Chemosphere

34, 1285-1296.

Peré-Trepata, E., Olivella, L., Ginebreda,

A., Caixach, J. and Tauler, R. (2006).

Chemometrics modelling of organic

contaminants in fish and sediment river

samples. Sci. Total Environ. 371,


Petrick, G., Schulz-Bull, D. E. and

Duinker, J. C. (1996). An in-situ filtration/extraction

system for the recovery

of trace organics in solution

and on particles tested in deep ocean

water. Mar. Chem. 54, 97-105.

Safe, S., Bandiera, S., Sawyer, T., Robertson,

L., Safe, L., Parkinson, A.,

Thomas, P.E., Ryan, D.E., Reik,

L.M., Levin, W., Denomme, M.A.

and Fujita, T. (1985). PCBs: Structure-function

relationships and mechanism

of action. Environ. Hlth. Perspect.

60: 47-56.

Schulz, D. E., Petrick, G. and Duinker,

J.C. (1988). Chlorinated biphenyls in

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north Atlantic surface and deep water.

Mar. Pollut. Bull. 19, 526-531.

Schulz-Bull, D.E., Petrick, G., Bruhn, R.

and J.C. Duinker. (1998). Chlorobiphenyls

(PCB) and PAH in water

masses of the northern North Atlantic.

Mar. Chem. 61, 101–114.

Schulz-Bull, D.E., Petrick, G., Kannan, N.

and Duinker, J.C. (1995). Distribution

of individual chlorobiphenyls

(PCB) in solution and suspension in

the Baltic Sea. Mar. Chem. 48, 245-


Subramanian, A., Tanabe, S. and Tatsukawa,

R. (1988). Estimating some biological

parameters of Baird’s beakesd

whales using PCBs and DDE as tracers.

Mar. Pollut. Bull. 19, 284-287.


Wania, F. (1998). The Significance of Long

Range Transport of Persistent Organic

Pollutants by Migratory Animals.

WECC Report 3/98, Wania Environmental

Chemists Corp. Toronto, Canada.

pp. 1-17.


1&type=pdf (last accessed on August

31, 2016).

Wang, J., Dong, M., Shim, W.J., Kannan,

N. and Li, D.H. (2007). Improved

cleanup technique for gas chromatographic–mass

spectrometric determination

of alkylphenols from biota extract.

J. Chromat. A. 1171, 15-21.

Wania, F. and Mackay, D. (1996). Tracking

the Distribution of Persistent Organic

Pollutants. Environ. Sci. Technol.

30, 390A-396A.

Yamashita, N., Taniyasu, S., Petrick, G.,

Wei, S., Gamo, T., Lam, P.K.S. and

Kannan, K. (2008). Perfluorinated acids

as novel chemical tracers of global

circulation of ocean waters. Chemosphere

70, 1247-1255.

ISBN: 978-967-14475-0-5; eISBN: 978-967-14475-1-2 37

ong>Focusong> on Environment

Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P38-50

Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming: A Case

in Paddy Farming in Peninsular Malaysia

Zakirah Othman and Quamrul Hasan*

School of Technology Management and Logistic, College of Business, Universiti Utara

Malaysia, 06010 Sintok, Kedah Darul Aman. Malaysia

*Corresponding author; Tel. No.: +604-928-7062; Email:


Many researches have proven that the sustainable agriculture has many advantages such as

providing cost effectiveness (e.g., using less amount of water); balancing the ecosystem; and,

most importantly, its practice is environment-friendly. It helps to increase the crop’s resistance

towards diseases, protect the soil from losing its natural fertility and helps in maintaining the

diversity of the microflora in soil. System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an innovative

methodology being used for sustainability in social development. It is widely recognized as a

suitable model for creating environmental, economic and social sustainability in agriculture for

the 21 st century. In addition, by paying attention to environment, SRI is an organic farming

management system, which results in higher quality yield with better taste and health benefits.

Therefore, this study was undertaken to understand about the SRI as the sustainable paddy

farming practice in the two selected areas on Peninsular Malaysia. This study has used a

qualitative research approach. Data was collected through field work observations and

interviews. The findings of this study showed that there were similarities mostly in the practice

of paddy farming (only with a minor difference on the days) in Sik (Kedah) and Bandar Baru

Tunjong (Kelantan). Furthermore, it showed that the proposed model of sustainable paddy

farming practices, which was a result of this study, could be explained well under three key

areas: 1) sustainable characteristic; 2) sustainable paddy farming practices; and 3) challenges in

sustainable farming. More research is required on the sustainable agriculture and organic farming

for better understanding and to addressing the agricultural sustainability related issues.

Keywords: Environment; organic farming; paddy; sustainable agriculture; system of rice

intensification (SRI)


Sustainability in agriculture refers to the

farmer’s ability to maintain crop production

and obtain benefits as well by accelerating

social growth, stabilizing economy and

remaining commercially competitive

without causing significant damage to nature

and environment (Ismail, 2006). Sustainable

agriculture has some advantages such as: 1)

providing cost effectiveness; 2) balancing

ecosystem; and 3) being environmental

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming


The focus of this study is on the

management practice in sustainable

agriculture and organic farming by paying

attention on the environment. The

management of sustainable agricultural

practice in Malaysia paddy farming is still in

its preliminary stage (Othman and

Muhammad, 2011; Othman et. al, 2016).

Currently, a popular system in organic

farming in Asia is the System of Rice

Intensification (SRI) (Uphoff, 2006), which

has been practiced in Malaysia since 2009

by starting at Bandar Baru Tunjong,

Kelantan, and Sik, Kedah. In the context of

SRI management, the Sri Lovely Farm at

Sik (which is one of the two cases in this

study) was one of the few certified organic

farms in Malaysia in 2013. The knowledge

in implementing the SRI in paddy

cultivation is still limited and, therefore,

more studies are necessary to establish it.

This study is undertaken to understand the

SRI as a sustainable paddy farming practice

by selecting two farms from different states

of West Malaysia. It explores the two

experienced farmers’ practices in managing

their paddy farms by employing the SRI. As

the main objective of the research was to to

understand and identify the sustainable

agricultural practices in organic paddy

farming in Malaysia.


SRI is a method to manage organic farming.

It was developed in Madagascar in 1983 as a

revolutionary paddy cultivation method to

achieve very high yields with reduced

resources such as irrigation water, fertilizers

and chemicals. The SRI is implemented in a

number of rice-growing countries, including

in China, India, and Myanmar. It is found

that the existing rice varieties have more

genetic potential than that of the previously

Othman and Hasan

thought which can be tapped by altering the

management practices. So far, the SRI

planting tests have been carried out in a total

of 48 countries including in Asia, Africa and

Latin America. Many SRI users reported

benefits such as a reduction in pests,

diseases, grain shattering, unfilled grains

and lodging. Additional environmental

benefits stem from the reduction of

agricultural chemicals, water use and

methane emissions that contribute to global

warming. SRI is also suitable for highland

paddy farming, and its application has

already been expanded to other types of

crops such as sugar cane.

According to Uphoff (2006), paddy

farming application using the SRI is based

on six main principles as follows: (1) When

(if) transplanting, to start with young

seedlings (two-leaf stage); (2) Plants to be

set out carefully and gently in a square

pattern of the size 25x25cm or wider if the

soil condition is very good, but this size can

be even wider if the soil is fertile enough, or

once it becomes more fertile after the SRI

practices; (3) Seedlings are to be

transplanted singly; (4) Rice paddies are to

be irrigated intermittently by keeping

minimum of water rather than continuously

flooded; (5) Weeding is to be carried out for

at least twice though the best result can be

obtained from multiple weeding with a

‘rotating hoe’ that actively aerates the soil at

the same time churning weeds back into the

soil to decompose, thereby conserving their

nutrients; and (6) Basic organic fertilizers,

compost or any decomposed biomass are to

be used.



Global warming, environmental crisis, plant

diseases and pests are the main causes in

disrupting the food production in many

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

countries around the world. At this time,

when the world’s population is increasing

rapidly resulting in to higher demand of

food, these problems have threatened food

security and people’s health worldwide.

Every day 24,000 people are dying due to

hunger-related causes including one child

every five seconds.

Rice is the staple food for more than

three billion people from all around the

world. At least, 114 countries grow rice and

more than 50 countries have at least an

annual production of 100,000 tonnes. As

rice is the main food for most countries in

Asia, about 90% of the global rice

production and consumption are in Asia. At

this time, when the world's population is

already reeling from higher food prices,

many countries have banned or restricted

their rice exports, which pushes up the price

of rice even higher. Since 1990s, the

increase in rice production has become

slower as compared with population growth.

Indeed, it is anticipated that rice production

should be increased by 30% by 2025 in

order to cater for the world’s growing

population. Among many other countries,

Malaysia has not yet achieved selfsufficiency

in food production.



Organic rice farming in West Malaysia

began in the early 1990’s under the guidance

of a Non-Governmental Organization

(NGO), working with small holder farmers

on rice storage in the state of Selangor. They

found that the system was not sustainable

due to a number of factors, such as poor

production technology support, marketing

issues, certification, and farmers’

commitment. In 1999, Kahang Organic Rice

Eco Farm (KOREF) pioneered the organic

method of rice farming practice in West

Othman and Hasan

Malaysia. Other locations that fully

integrated sustainable paddy fields were in

Bandar Baru Tunjong, Sabak Bernam,

Ledang and Bario (Sarawak).

According to the National Green

Technology Policy Malaysia, effective

promotion and public awareness are two of

the main factors that would affect the

success of sustainable development through

the green technology agenda (National

Green Technology Policy 2009, Malaysia,

Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and

Water). This is particularly significant as

such adoption requires a change of mindset

of the public through various approaches,

including effective education and

information dissemination to increase public

awareness of sustainable agriculture and on

ways to conserve the environment. Mustafa

and Mohd Jani (1995) stated that greater

public awareness about environmental

pollution and depletion of resources can help

Malaysia to develop sustainable agriculture.

More intensive monitoring and investigating

agricultural practices would enable Malaysia

to achieve sustainability in agriculture

(Murad et. al., 2008).

There have been many strategies to

increase production in the sustainable

contexts; such as creation of paddy estate,

Malaysia Organic Scheme (Skim Organic

Malaysia - SOM) and Malaysia Good

Plantation Resources Practices System

(Sistem Amalan Ladang Baik Malaysia -

SLAM) certificate, good agriculture

practices and promoting organic farming in

Malaysia. However, there are very limited

information is available on organic paddy

farming using the SRI specifically in


The Department of Agriculture

(DOA) is the agency under the Malaysian

Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based

Industry involved in activities related to

quality and productivity of crops. This

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

department introduced the SOM to promote

sustainable development. SOM is a

certification programme to recognize farms

which cultivate crops organically according

to the criteria and requirement described in

the scheme. The standard is based on the

Malaysian Standard, MS 1529: 2001. In the

context of paddy farming, KOREF and Sri

Lovely Farm are the two certified organic

farms in Malaysia.


This study employed a qualitative research

using the observation and interview

approaches. The observations and interviews

were carried out at Sik, Kedah and Bandar

Baru Tunjong, Kelantan during 23 July 2009

until 14 September 2013. Some of the

interviews, by the interviewees who

allowed, were recorded by videotaping.

However, all the interview answers were

written down by the researcher in notebook.

Also, the phone calls were used to obtain

further information from the respondents.

The selected respondents were the farmers

of different levels including supervisor and

managing director. One of the respondents’

philosophies was stated as “the farming

ought to safeguard the eco-system bestowed

by God.”

The first location of this field study

was Bandar Baru Tunjong in Kelantan

owned by the Sunnah Tani Sdn. Bhd. It was

started as a pilot project in May 2009 with 8

hectares of land at Kampung Tunjong in

Bandar Baru Tunjong by adopting the SRI

method as its paddy farming practice.

The second location of this field

study was at the Sik area in Kedah owned by

the Koperasi Agro Belantik Berhad (a local

cooperative organization). The project was

aimed to enhance the income of the local

people through the development of vacant

Othman and Hasan

land. This project was kicked off on

December 24, 2009 using 32 hectares of

land of Kampung Lintang, Kampung

Kubang, Kampung Surau, Kampung Pinang,

Kampung Bukit Batu, Kampung Belantik

Dalam and Kampung Belantik Luar. The

interviews were conducted with the

managing director (Farmer 1) and his two

assistants (Farmer 2 and Farmer 3).

The main questions asked during the

interviews were related to the steps involved

in paddy farming practices including land

preparation, seed selection, water

management, fertilizer use, weed, pest and

disease control, and harvesting. Data related

to paddy farming, mainly in sustainable

practices were compared and analyzed the

adaption criteria of SOM. It is a standard

that sets out the requirements for the

production, the labeling and claims for

organically produced foods. The

requirements cover all stages of production,

including farm operations, preparation,

storage, transport, and labeling. Further

details are explained below:

i. Land and soil management

■ Farms shall take reasonable and

appropriate measures to minimize loss of

topsoil through minimal tillage, contour

plowing, crop selection, maintenance of

cover crops and other management practices

that conserve soil.

■ Land clearing and preparation through

burning vegetation, e.g. slash and burn, shall

only be allowed and restricted to the

minimum when other measures are not


■ Burning of crop residues, e.g. straw

burning is prohibited except in case of need

to control a serious insect or disease


■ The fertility and biological activity of the

soil should be maintained or increased,

using appropriate methods by a) cultivation

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

of legumes, green manures or deep-rooting

plants in an appropriate multi-annual

rotation programme, b) incorporation in the

soil of organic material, composted or not,

from holdings produced in accordance with

this standard.


ii. Water management

■ Operators shall take reasonable and

appropriate measures to prevent excessive

and improper use of water.

■ Operators shall take reasonable and

appropriate measures to prevent the

pollution of ground and surface water.

■ Organic handlers shall install systems that

permit the responsible use and recycling of

water without pollution or contamination,

either by chemicals, or by animal or human


■ Untreated sewage water is prohibited for


iii. Seeds and planting material

■ Use of genetically modified organisms

(GMOs) and products thereof is prohibited

in all aspects of organic production and

handling without exception.

■ Seeds and vegetative reproductive

material should be from plants grown in

accordance with the provisions of this

standard for at least one generation or in the

case of perennial crops, two growing


■ Use of conventional seed and planting

material is only allowed where there is no

organic seed or propagation material of the

appropriate sort available.

■ Seeds and propagation material shall not

be treated with prohibited substances.

Exceptions should be allowed where there is

no untreated seed or propagation material of

the appropriate sort available.

■ Where varieties protected under the Plant

Variety Protection Act are used, the farm

shall respect intellectual property rights


Othman and Hasan

iv. Fertility management

■ Crop production systems shall return

nutrients, organic matter and other resources

removed from the soil through harvesting by

recycling, regeneration and addition of

organic matter and nutrients with respect to

the nutrient requirement of crops and the

nutrient balance of the soil.

■ Operators shall plan their fertility

management to maximize the use of plant

and animal organic matter produced within

the farm and minimized the use of broughtin

organic materials or mineral fertilizers.

■ Where applicable, in annual crop

production, an appropriate green manure

crop shall be included in the crop rotation

plan to maintain organic matter content and

soil fertility.

■ Organic materials and mineral fertilizers

shall not be used if their production and use

have an unacceptable impact on the


■ Allowance on the maximum amount of

brought-in organic materials and mineral

fertilizers used in the farm shall be

established on a case by case basis taking

into account local conditions and the nature

of the crop.

■ Imported microbial inoculums used for

enhancing soil fertility shall undergo

quarantine procedures before use.

v. Soil conditioners and fertilization


■ The permitted organic materials and

mineral fertilizers are listed in SOM.

■ Use of organic material (plant and animal)

from conventional systems should be

allowed where there is no organic material

from organic systems available.

■ Organic industrial by-products should be

allowed if they are not contaminated with

non-permitted substances or other

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contaminants exceeding applicable health

and sanitary regulations.

■ Animal manures shall not be used directly

on food crops, unless they have been

composted or measures are taken to prevent

risk of contamination exceeding applicable

health and sanitary regulations.

■ Use of human and pig excrement is


■ Poultry manure from battery production

systems should be allowed if manure from

non-battery based production systems (e.g.

free range) is not available.

■ Use of trace elements should only be

allowed as supplements and only where

exhaustive measures to maximize the use of

plant and animal organic matter produced

within the farm as well as brought-in

organic materials have been taken.

vi. Prevention and control of pests,

diseases and weeds

■ Pests, diseases and weeds shall be

controlled by cultural, mechanical, physical

and biological methods.

■ Use of inputs for pest, disease, weed

control and plastic mulch material shall be

allowed only where cultural, biological and

mechanical measures are ineffective under

the production condition in question. Spent

plastic mulch material shall be disposed

properly and not ploughed back into the soil.

■ Use of plant waste material from

conventional systems shall be allowed for

mulching where there is no plant material

from organic systems of the appropriate sort

available. e.g.: paddy straw, grasses, oil

palm leaves etc. Where the substances are

restricted, the conditions of use as set by the

certification body shall be strictly adhered

by the farm.

■ All substances used for pest control shall

comply with the relevant national


Othman and Hasan

■ Farms shall use the approved substances

with care and abide with their conditions of

use, so as to avoid altering the ecosystem of

the soil and farm.

vii. Harvest

■ The crop must be harvested at proper


■ Waste from handling shall be managed so

as to have minimum effect on the

environment. Where appropriate, organic

waste shall be used for nutrient recycling in

production fields


Traditional and computer-based qualitative

methodologies were used to analyze the data

for emerging themes and to compare and

contrast the observation obtains from the

participants. The data from video-tapes

(interview) and written notes were also

transcribed. All the data were first reviewed

and coded. The only data related to

understanding and identifying organic paddy

farming practices were used in the analysis

of this study. Then, the data were

categorized. The primary analysis helped the

researcher to focus on the data that could be

used to understand SRI management

practices. The data analysis revealed that the

process of understanding and identifying

organic paddy farming practices presented

three major areas: (1) sustainability

characteristics, (2) sustainable paddy

farming practices; and (3) challenges in

sustainable farming. Lastly, the text and

visualization data were validated by an

expert reviewer.


Data related to paddy farming from the two

locations were compared and analyzed

based on the principles stated in the SOM.

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

Both similarities and differences (though the

differences were minor and limited to the

days of treatment only) were found in the

practice of paddy farming in the two

selected locations. The findings are divided

in to three main areas (Sustainability

characteristics, Sustainable paddy farming

practices and Challenges in Sustainable

Farming) and illustrated in Figure 1 as a

proposed model.

Sustainability characteristics

The characteristics of sustainability in

practical paddy farming as observed in Sik

and Bandar Baru Tunjong were: (1)

balancing the ecosystem; (2) input from

sustainable resources; (3) no chemical or

synthetic fertiliser and pesticide used; and

(4) natural control of pests, diseases and

weeds (Othman, 2012).

The first is balancing the farm

ecosystem. The farmers from both farms-Sik

and Bandar Baru Tunjong agreed that the

farm should observe a natural control to

create balance in the ecosystem. This is

evident in the statements from Farmer 4 and

5 as recorded in the interview session:

“The ecosystem is complete, let’s look at

this farm, we see it complete. There are

living things. There is an eel (fish) ... There

must be life. Then there is growth…and

the paddy will grow well”, -(Farmer

5, personal communication, July 23, 2009).

This feature is also evident in the

availability of living creatures such as fish,

eel sand shrimp in the paddy fields.

Sustainable paddy farming practices

Overall, there are eight major steps in

sustainable paddy farming practices at the

Othman and Hasan

two locations of this study (Othman, 2012).

These are listed below.

a) Land preparation

Sik and Bandar Baru Tunjong farms recycle

the rice straws by incorporating them into

the soil during the preparation of the land.

They apply one or two rounds of dry

ploughing and two times wet ploughing by

tractors. However, they had preferred less or

no tilling of land.

Initially, the soil was ploughed by

tractor. Subsequently, water was let to enter

in to help in the decay of grass, rice straw

and stubble. After two days, drains were

constructed on the edge of a paddy plot, so

that the paddy field rice was always flooded

and the soils moisten. Then, the soil was

flattened with a flattening tool called a

‘ruler’ or pembaris. After that a ‘distance

tool’ or penjarak was used, which

functioned as a means of determining the

distances between the seedings to be


b) Seeds

Planting begins with soil treatment. In this

trial project, five to seven tonnes of organic

fertiliser were placed into the soil a week

before planting was carried out. It began

with the selection of high quality seeds. The

seed selection procedure at Bandar Baru

Tunjong was similar to Sik. Then, the seeds

were planted at the nursery. After that, they

were transplanted to the paddy field

manually. The method required time and a

bountiful workforce in comparison to the

direct scattering technique or through the

use of machine transplanting. The farmers

planted paddy twice a year, once in the main

season and once in the off season. All the

farmers in the two selected study areas used

high quality seeds obtained from the

MARDI. The farmers from Bandar Baru

Tunjong used the SRI method in which the

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

seedlings were widely spaced (25cmx25cm),

while farmers at Sik used more widely space

(35cmx35cm) to plant a paddy.

c) Water management

The efficiency of irrigation is necessary for

high yields. However, the organic method

(SRI) uses less water compared to the

conventional farming method. The farm in

Sik obtained its supply of water from

surrounding rivers.Water at Bandar Baru

Tunjong was obtained from the nearby river

through drain. Water was drained into a

nearby pool of water and allowed to stagnate

and drained to the paddy field when it was


d) Fertilizers

The farmers of Bandar Baru Tunjong and

Sik applied only compost, organic fertilizers

and natural minerals.Organic fertiliser was

self-made by the farmers themselves. Local

Micro-organism (MOL) was used as the

main component for the fertilizer. This

MOL can be used as an activator in the

preparation of compost. Other than being

used as compost, it was mixed with water

and sprayed directly to the soil. This was

done for the purpose of fertilizing the soil

and increasing the nutrients. Self-made

fertilizer can reduce the cost of production,

apart from preserving the sources.

According to one farmer, the main

(mother) fertiliser is made from tender

bamboo shoots or the soft base of the banana

tree stump. All these were crushed and

mixed with sugar which contributed to a

type of fertiliser. Following this, the

materials were soaked with water for up to

day 14 days. Later, one litre of this fertiliser

was added to 10 litres of water (25 litres can

be used for one acre of the land area). The

similar method was used to produce other

types of fertilisers by mixing animal dung

Othman and Hasan

with paddy straw, tree leaves and limes

which were left to soak for a duration of 14


e) Weed control

Basically, the Bandar Baru Tunjong and Sik

farmers control the weeds manually and by

rotary weeding. The control of weedy rice

needs to be carried out directly right after

the harvesting season.The porcupine is an

equipment to plough the soil and discard

grass at Bandar Baru Tunjong. It also

functions as a tool to loosen the soil. This

method of discarding the grass is employed

from the time when the paddy seedlings

were 10- 40 days old.

f) Pest and disease control

Bandar Baru Tunjong and Sik farmers

adopted an ecological system with

conservation of natural predators, and IPM

practices to control pests and diseases. The

IPM practices included biological pest

control, proper cultivation methods,

effective application of pesticides and

mechanical traps. Some of the biological

practices implemented by the Department

include integrated fish rearing, integrated

Muscovy duck rearing, and rat controlled by

Tyto Alba bird, a type of owl.

g) Harvest

Paddy was ready for harvesting in 105-125

days, and all the farmers in the two selected

areas of this study used the harvester

machine for harvesting.

In summary, both the similarities and

differences were found in the practice of

paddy farming in the two study locations,

which were also reported earlier (Othman et.

al., 2010). A comparative summary on the

organic paddy farming, using the SRI, in

two different farms are shown in Table 1

and Table 2.

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

Table 1: Summary of Paddy Farming using Organic (SRI) Method by Day at Sik

Method of SRI farming (Sik)

Day (D) Note Activity

D1- D14

Ploughing by tractor


Release water into the paddy field



Ploughing by small tractor

of soil / land


Third cycle, making lanes


Scattering of organic fertilizer

D16 Planting Soak seeds for planting

Day After

Planting Note Activity


DAP 5 - 8 Planting Paddy seedlings are transferred to the paddy


DAP 90 Water


Drain out the water

DAP 110 -115 Harvest Harvesting

Note: Weeding is carried out as much as four times from the 10 th to the 40 th day.

Othman and Hasan

Table 2: Summary of Paddy Farming using Organic (SRI) Method by Day at BBT

Method of SRI farming (BBT: Bandar Baru Tunjong)

Day (D) Note Activity

D1- D14 Preparation Ploughing by tractor


of soil / land Release water into the paddy field


Ploughing by small tractor (kabota)


Third cycle, making lanes


Scattering of organic fertilizer

D24 Planting Soak seeds for planting

Day After

Planting Note Activity


DAP 8 - 12 Planting Paddy seedlings are transferred to the paddy


DAP 90 Water Drain out the water


DAP 110 - Harvest Harvesting


Note: 1. Organic fertilizer is put into the soil one week before planting; 2. Weeding

is carried out as much as four times from the 10 th to the 40 th day.

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

Othman and Hasan

Challenges in sustainable farming

This study also showed that there were three

challenges in implementing sustainable

paddy farming. These were: awareness and

early education in sustainable paddy

farming, management transition, and high

work commitment as shown in Figure 1.

These are further explained below.

Awareness and education

Awareness and early education of

sustainable paddy farming is vital. It is

hoped that innovations through ICT would

provide meaningful contributions.

During this study, it was found that

most paddy farmers were lacking in

awareness and education regarding organic

farming practices. Therefore it is pertinent

that farmers and youth could be educated on

the immense benefits of sustainable

practices in paddy farming.

According to Mustapha and Mohd

Jani (1995), agricultural projects must

prioritize social interest and long-term

economic goals rather than short-term

interests by implementing programmes that

minimizes the destruction of resource.

Nevertheless, any attempt to make the

society aware requires the intervention from

the government because of two factors.

Firstly, the policy formulation which

supports sustainable agricultural

development and secondly, government

intervention in implementing laws relating

to the maintenance and control of agriculture

resource utilization. Therefore, a

government policy which supports

agricultural development that takes into

account sustainability factors is the

prerequisite that determines the success or

failure of a sustainable agricultural

development programme.

Management transition

The next challenge is management transition

from conventional farming to organic

farming. In reality, there are several

challenges in the current implementation of

rice management, among them are:

i. Unsatisfactory outcome

Most farmers are categorized under

low incomes. A study conducted in

1990 showed that 60 percent of the

household or rice field employees

were either poor or extremely poor.

After 10 years, however research

showed farmer’s poverty rate had

reduced to 40 percent.

The income of rice farmers is

low due to the uneconomical size of

the fields which is mainly unprofita-

Sustainable characteristic

1. Balancing ecosystem

2. Input from sustainable


3. No chemical or synthetic

fertiliser and pesticide

4. Natural control (pest,

disease and weed)

Sustainable Paddy Farming


1. Land preparation

2. Seeds preparation

3. Water management

4. Fertilizers

5. Control (weed, pest and disease)

6. Harvest


1. Awareness and education

2. Management transition

3. High work commitment

Figure 1: The proposed model describing the key areas of sustainable and organic paddy

farming practices.

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming




-ble. The majority of farmers

acquired the fields through

inheritance, and poverty forces most

farmers to find other jobs to increase

their income. Thus, most small scale

rice farmers with low income make

paddy farming as their part time


This opinion is supported by

MADA (2005) whereby many low

income rice farmers face financial

difficulty and need loans to support

the family. Unfortunately, loans

become a burden and three quarter of

MADA farmers are classified as


Demand exceeds production

Rice production in Malaysia is

insufficient to cater to the country’s

needs, and around 30% of rice is

imported from Thailand and

Vietnam. According to MADA, on

average, paddy production yield in

Malaysia is 4.2 tonnes per hectare

per season (MADA, 2009), which is

considered low. Thus, the country

cannot meet its own demand.

High production cost

Production cost of rice in Malaysia is

high and this has compelled the

government to intervene by offering

incentives. Accordingly if the

various types of input given by the

government in the form of subsidies,

such as seed, fertilizer and price

subsidies, were to be taken away, it

would be difficult to attract a person

to venture into rice agriculture.

Labor shortage

The rice farming sector in Malaysia

faces a problem of labor shortage.

The youth are keen to migrate to the

Othman and Hasan

cities and work in the manufacturing

and other sectors than growing rice.

Therefore, the present Malaysian rice

farmers’ average age has actually

exceeded retirement age. Due to old

age and low income, they work on

their rice fields just to fulfill their

basic daily needs.

v. Incomplete infrastructure, water


Lack of infrastructure and weak

irrigation system are also the main

problems faced by many rice farmers

in Malaysia.

High work commitment

Organic paddy farming requires a high

commitment from farmers. This is supported

by information extracted from an interview

with an organic farmer who believes that

farming organically require sacrifice and


“To ensure that this (pointing to his

paddy field) is good, more sacrifice is

required. It requires wisdom. By doing this,

the outcome is better. - (Farmer 4, personal

communication, July 23, 2009).

Farmers who consider organic rice

cultivation as a part-time job will not be able

to run it effectively. This is because waste

from agricultural products need to be

recycled, for example it should be turned

into compost. Apart from that, pest, disease

and weed control should be done naturally.

This will be difficult if the farm

environment is damaged or polluted.

According to organic farmers in Bandar

Baru Tunjong, they face environmental

problems and an in balanced ecosystem

because of long term usage of chemical


Ismail (2006) also agrees that the

transition from conventional to organic

farming requires a high level of

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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

commitment. According to him, this

conversion is a difficult move because the

positive impact, if there is any, can only be

gained in the long term.


SRI is an innovative system for the organic

agricultural practices aimed at preserving

the nature and environment. SRI is also a

methodology in organic paddy farming

practices. Our study outcome suggests that

for a sustainable organic paddy farming the

proposed model, as shown in Figure 1, the 3

key areas are: 1) sustainability

characteristics; 2) sustainable paddy farming

practices; and 3) challenges in sustainable

farming. This study made a significant

contribution in the agricultural sector, in line

with the objective of Agro Makanan Policies

(2011-2020) which is to guarantee adequate

and safe supply of food for consumption.

However, other factors such as good

perceptions (Bagheri et. al, 2008);

interactive and cooperation between farmer;

government, research institution; and the

role of the policy-maker are important

factors in achieving sustainable agriculture

(Murad et al, 2008; Sharghi et al, 2010).

More research is required on the sustainable

agriculture and organic farming in Malaysia

for the better understanding and addressing

the issues.


The authors would like to express their

gratitude to Captain Zakaria Kamantasha,

Managing Director of Sri Lovely Farm, Sik,

Kedah for extending his cooperation to write

this paper.


Othman and Hasan

Bagheri, A., Fami, H. S., Rezvanfar, A.,

Asadi, A., and Yazdani, S. (2008).

Perceptions of Paddy Farmers towards

Sustainable Agricultural Technologies:

Case of Haraz Catchments Area in

Mazandaran province of Iran.

American Journal of Applied Sciences,

5(10), 1384-1391. doi:


Ismail, M. R. (2006). Pertanian Lestari.

Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan

Pustaka. (p.35)

Murad, M. W., Mustapha, N. H. N., and

Siwar, C. (2008). Review of

Malaysian Agricultural Policies with

Regards to Sustainability. American

Journal of Environmental Sciences,

4(6), 608-614.

Mustapha, N. H. and Mohd Jani, M. F.

(1995). Pembangunan Pertanian

Lestari.Selangor:Penerbit UKM. (p.25)

National Green Technology Policy (2009).

Ministry of Energy, Green Technology

and Water, Malaysia.

Othman, Z., Muhammad, A. and Abu

Bakar, M. A. (2010). A Sustainable

Paddy Farming Practice in West

Malaysia.The International Journal of

Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(2),


Othman, S. N., Othman, Z. and Yaacob,

N. A. (2016). The Value Chain of

System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

Organic Rice of Rural Farms in

Kedah. International Journal of

Supply Chain Management, 5(3), 111-


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Sustainable Agriculture through Organic Farming

Othman, Z. and Muhammad, A. (2011).

Design strategies to persuasive

learning for promoting sustainable

practices in paddy farming. American

Journal of Economics and Business

Administration, 3(1), 197-202.

Sharghi, T., Sedighi, H., and Eftekhari,

A. R. (2010). Effective Factors in



Agriculture.American Journal of

Agricultural and Biological Sciences,

Othman and Hasan

5(2), 235-241. doi:


Uphoff, N. (2006). The System of Rice

Intensification (SRI) as a Methodology

for Reducing Water Requirements in

Irrigated Rice Production.

International Dialogue on Rice and

Water: Exploring Options for Food

Security and Sustainable

Environments, Philippines, March 7-8,


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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P51-59

Environmental Legislations in Malaysia: A

Protection to Public Health

Haslinda Mohd Anuar

School of Law, College of Law, Government and International Studies (COLGIS), Universiti

Utara Malaysia, 06010 Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia

Phone No.: +6 04-9288106; Email:


The importance between human and environment was first recognized by Stockholm Declaration

in 1972. This interdependent was further developed by Rio Declaration 1992 whereby the

concept of sustainable development was widely introduced. Although the main theme was

‘development’, Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration proclaims that ‘Human beings are at the

centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life

in harmony with nature’. Rio Declaration 1992 was further strengthened with Rio +20 in 2012

whereby more agenda have been defined ‘to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more

prosperous world for all’. In Malaysia, various legislations and national policies have been

implemented to achieve sustainable development including with enactment of Environmental

Quality Act 1974; Dasar Alam Sekitar Negara; and Dasar Perubahan Iklim Negara as the basis

of environmental management. However, there are more than forty environmental related

legislations been enforced by various government agencies in Malaysia. Furthermore, in 2013,

during the Third Ministerial Regional Forum on Environment and Health in South East and East

Asian Countries held in Kuala Lumpur member countries agreed to cooperate to develop and

implement National Environmental Health Action Plans (NEHAP) that aims ‘to put sustainable

environment and health at the centre of development, and that will result in sustainability and

improvements in environmental quality, and enhancement of public health, and ensure the health

of the future generations in the region’. This chapter will discuss primarily the development of

environmental legislations including the national policies in Malaysia which aim to protect the

public health.

Keywords: Environment; health; legislation; policy.


Clean air, clean water, fertile soil and

functioning ecosystems are the integral part

of human survival and well-being, and it

was argued by many scholars that these

elements should be considered as part of

rights to life and health (Boyd, 2011;

Weissbrodt, 2007; Dowdeswell, 1994).

According to the World Health

Organization, approximately one-quarter of

the entire burden of disease globally is

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Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

attributable to environmental risk factors (A.

Pruss-Ustun, 2006). Human activity is the

major threat to environment and every

component of the environment is constantly

threatened due to destruction of natural

resources due to increasing human demand

and development activities. In this situation,

laws are essential in guiding enforcement

efforts and in the formulation of subsequent

policies in carrying out environmental

requirements (Rahman, 2010).

Malaysia faces numerous diverse

range of environmental issues and problems.

There are: air pollution; water pollution;

sound and noise pollution; agro-chemical

pollution; degradation of ground water level;

filling of lakes abd water bodies; acid rain;

deforestaion; soil pollution; land

degradation; biodiversity degradation;

global warming; terrorist activities; politics

and political parties; corruptions in

adminstration; solid waste management;

unplanned urbanisation; hazardous waste;

water crisis; disease outbreak; landslides and

landslips; polythene use; and sectoral

environmental problems (Mohammad,


This paper will give an overview on

right to live in healthy environment or

‘environmental rights’ with particularly

focus on environmental health. Various

international instruments will be discussed

including the Stockholm Declaration 1972

and the Rio Declaration 1992. At National

level, the Articles in Federal Constitution

and the Environmental Quality Act 1974

will be examined accordingly. To further

strengthen the laws by way of action

National Environmental Health Action Plan

(NEHAP) was documented and

implemented by the Ministry of Health. All

these legislations are enforced to ensure that

the sustainable development is achieved for

a better standard of healthy living for

present and future generations.

Mohd Anuar




International instruments

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

was adopted in 1948 by the General

Assembly of the United Nations. Human

rights are derived from the principle of

Natural Law whereby ‘Human (person)

possesses rights because of the very fact that

it is a person, a whole, a master of itself and

of its acts…by natural law, the human

person has the right to be respected, is the

subject of rights’ (Shradha Sinha, 2005).

Asia Pacific Forum on Human

Rights and the Environment (2007) defined

that environmental rights as right to

environment, a ‘right of the people to a

healthful environment’, a right to live in an

‘environment and surroundings which are

condusive to health’, and a right to ‘use

natural resources in accordance with

customary traditions and practices which

encourage community-based sustainable

natural resource management’. According

to Mukherjee (2002), ‘‘environmental

rights’ have been defined as both individual

and collective, both substantive and

procedural’, and the contents of

‘environmental rights’ have been ‘derived

from the existing universally recognised

rights, both with regard to substantive rights

(such as the rights to life, health and

privacy) and procedural rights (namely,

access to information and due process of

law)’. Environmental Science Dictionary

defined the environmental rights as a right

enjoyed by all members of society that

people can live and work in healthy, safe

and comfortable environment. It also states

that it includes the right to life and healthy,

the right of property security and the right of

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Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

comfortable environment for living and


The words ‘clean’ and ‘healthy’

environment is interconnected. It may be

stated that a clean environment is a human

right; and health is a state of complete

physical, mental and social well-being and

not merely the absence of disease or

infirmity. The scope of creating a healthy

environment is clealy not limited to

hospitals and doctor’s surgeries, but includes

the myraid factors that influence to health,

agriculture and food, education, employment

status, and working envirinment, water and

sanitation, and health care services

(Mohammad, 2014).

Stockholm Declaration 1972 has

recognized the relationship between human

and development. Principle 1 of the

Stockholm Declaration declared that, ‘man

has the fundamental right to freedom,

equality and adequate condition of life, in an

environment of quality that permits a life of

dignity and well-being, and he bears a

solemn responsibility to protect and improve

the environment for present and future

generations’. Stockholm Declaration 1972

referred to ‘an environment of a quality that

permits a life of dignity and well-being’.

Then, the United Nations Conference

on Environment and Development 1992,

known as the Earth Summit, produced Rio

Declaration on Human Environment and

Development (the Rio Declaration) that

stressed the principle of sustainable

development, that is, development that

meets the developmental and environmental

needs of present and future generation.

Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration states that,

“Human beings are at the centre of concerns

for sustainable development. They are

entitled to a healthy and productive life in

harmony with nature”.

In 1994, the report of the UN Special

Rapporteur on Human Rights and the

Mohd Anuar

Environment included the proposed right to

secure, healthy and ecologically sound

environment. Since then, many countries

have inserted the right to healthy

environment in their Constitutions (Boyd,

2011). According to Law (2011), in total

there are more than 100 countries that have

recognized the right to live in a healthy

environment either explicitly or through

judicial interpretation of other provisions.

These include Norway, Albania, Spain,

Argentina, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay,

Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Thailand, Venezuela,

Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and

many more.

Besides the state constitution, there

are also a number of regional agreements

that explicitly recognized the right to a

healthy environment. Among the

instruments are the African Charter on

Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Additional

Protocol to the American Convention on

Human Rights, the Arab Charter on Human

Rights, and the Aarhus Convention on

Access to Information, Public Participation

in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in

Environmental Matters.

Some international courts and

tribunals like the European Court of Human

Rights (ECHR), the European Committee of

Social Rights, the International Court of

Justice (ICJ) and the Inter-American

Commission on Human Rights have

interpreted international treaties and

conventions to include the right to a healthy

environment. For example, ICJ in the case

of Hungary v Slovakia opined that, ‘The

protection of the environment is… a vital

part of contemporary human rights doctrine,

for it is a sine qua non for numerous human

rights such as the right to health and the

right to life itself…damage to the

environment can impair and undermine all

the rights spoken of in the Universal

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Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

Declaration and other human rights


Malaysian legislations

An ‘environmental right’ is not expressly

provided for under Malaysian Federal

Constitution or any law. Fundamental

liberties or human rights such as liberty of a

person, freedom of speech, freedom of

movement and right to property are secured

under the Malaysian Federal Constitution,

and ‘environmental rights’ or right to a

healthy environment are yet to be explicitly

included as one of the constitutional rights.

In Tan Tek Seng v Suruhanjaya

Perkhidmatan Pendidikan, Court of Appeal

ruled that, ‘…the expression ‘life’ appearing

in Article 5(1) does not refer to mere

existence. It incorporates all those facets

that are an integral part of life itself… it

includes the right to live a reasonably

healthy and pollution free environment’.

Similarly, in Adong bin Kuwau & Ors v

Kerajaan Negeri Johor & Anor, the case was

decided based on Article 13 of the Federal

Constitution which provides for right to

property. The court although pronounced

that the plaintiffs (the aborigines) have

propriety rights over the Linggui valley and

the defendants had deprived them the rights,

failed to make any reference that such

deprivation was tantamount to denial to

healthy and decent environment to live for

the aborigines. This is the effect of nonexplicit

provision on the right to healthy

environment under the Federal Constitution.

The Court of Appeal has interpreted the

right to life broadly as extending beyond

mere existence to the quality of life, and

‘[including] the right to live in a reasonably

healthy and pollution free environment’.

Although the Federal Constitution

does not mention about ‘environment’ in

any of its Article, the legislative lists in the

Mohd Anuar

Federal Constitution contain all different

components of the environments. For

example, matters of federal responsibility

include the development of mineral

resources; pest control; and many industrial

and infrastructural activities. Matters of state

responsibility include land; agriculture and

forestry; and state work and water. Matters

of concurrent list include public health; town

and country planning; and drainage and


There are moves to insert the right to

healthy and clean environment in the

Federal Constitution. The Environmental

Law Review Committee in 1992 was

reported to make such recommendation

(Ministry of Science, Technology and

Environment, 1992), and in 1996 CAP-SAM

National Conference of the Environment in

Malaysia stated that, ‘Since environmental

protection is crucial to ensure the survival

of mankind and other living things, as had

been acknowledged by world leaders during

the Rio Conference, it is timely that Part II

of the Constitution which deals with

fundamental liberties be amended to provide

for the right to a clean and safe


The main environmental legislation

in Malaysia is the Environmental Quality

Act 1974. It covers a wide range of

environmental problems such as air

pollution, noise pollution, pollution on land,

and pollution of inland water. Besides that,

there are other legislations enacted on

matters relating to the environment such as

Land Conservation Act 1960, Wildlife Act

1972, National Park Act 1980, National

Forestry Act 1984, and Fisheries Act 1985.

The existence of these legislations indicates

the importance of environmental protection

and management in Malaysia.

The Department of Environment was

created in 1975 under the Ministry of

Science, Technology and the Environment

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Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

to manage and administer the environmental

quality in Malaysia. As a federal agency, it

does not appear to be full control over

environmental resources. As mentioned

earlier, matters relating to land, forest and

water resources are under the jurisdiction of

the state and enacted under different

legislations, which are not under the charge

of the Department of Environment. For an

effective environmental management and

implementation, total cooperation between

the state and federal authorities are required.

Some environmental initiatives have

been made to achieve sustainable

development. Malaysian Plan provides a

road map of socio economic aspects of the

country. The Seventh Malaysian Plan clearly

states that clean, safe, and healthy living

environment are to be achieved for our

present and future generations. Besides the

Department of Environment which was

established under the Environmental Quality

Act 1974, the local governments has been

performing a wide range of services such as

public health and cleansing, enforcement

and licensing, and public amenities and

social services. Malaysia has also actively

participating and implementing various

provisions of international instruments for

example Amendment to the Montreal

Protocol on Substances that Deplete the

Ozone Layer in (Date of Ratification: 14

September 1993); The United Nations

Conventions on Biological Diversity 1992

(Date of Ratification: 22 September 1994);

and The Basel Convention on the Control of

Transboundary Movements of Tropical

Timber Agreement 1994 (Date of

Ratification: 1994). These initiatives, again,

requires full cooperation from all

stakeholders to ensure the aim of sustainable

development is achieved.


Mohd Anuar

Environmental protection and public health

goals are in general replenishing each other.

The term environmental health, as defined

by World Health Organisation, addressed all

physical, chemical, and biological factors

external to a person, and all the related

factors impacting behavior. It encompasses

the assessment and control of those

environmental factors that can potentially

affect health. It is targeted towards

preventing disease and creating healthsupportive

environments (NEHAP Malaysia,

2016). In other word, environmental health

is the branch of public health that is

concerned with all aspects of the natural and

built environment that may affect human

health (NEHAP Malaysia, 2016).

The NEHAP has been developed and

implemented by many countries to address

environmental health problems and needs

for action. In the Third Ministerial Regional

Forum on Environmental and Health in

South East and East Asian Countries held in

Kuala Lumpur in September 2013, the

Kuala Lumpur Declaration was affirmed to;

“Agree to cooperate to develop and

implement national environmental health

action plans (NEHAPs), or equivalent plans,

that aims to put sustainable environment

and health at the centre of development, and

that will result in sustainability and

improvements in environmental quality, and

enhancement of public health, and ensure

the health of the future generations in the

region; Agree to work for the development

and implementation of mechanism to enable

mire effective sharing of information

between the health and environment sectors

and other sectors through the

Environmental Health Country Profiles

(EHCP) and Environmental Data Sheets

(EHDS)” (Figure 1).

Based on the National Policy on

Environment which aims at continued

economic, social and culture progress and

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Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

Mohd Anuar

Figure 1: A schematic diagram depicts the mechanism adopted in Malaysia’s National

Environmental Health Action Plan (NEHAP) (Source: NEHAP Malaysia, 2016).

enhancement of the quality of life of

Malaysians through environmentally sound

and sustainable development, the Economic

Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s

Department was agreed that NEHAP was to

be developed in the 9 th Malaysia Plan by the

Environment and Health in Southeast and

East Asian Countries (NEHAP Malaysia,


1. Air Quality

2. Water, sanitation and hygiene

3. Solid and hazardous waste

Ministry of Health. The main objectives to 4. Toxic chemicals and hazardous

NEHAP are; (1) To strengthen collaboration

and cooperation between various sectors for

effective use of resources in improving

human health and sustainable development;

(2) To develop and maintain human health

and sustainable development through the


5. Climate change, ozone depletion and

ecosystem change

6. Contingency planning, preparedness

and response in environmental health


management of environmental health with a 7. Environmental health impact

systematic and holistic manner in the



The followings are environmental

health areas of concern which have been

identified on the Regional Initiative on

The implementation mechanism comprises

of a three-tier approach and lead agency to

implement it has been identified (Figure 2).

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Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

Mohd Anuar

Figure 2: A schematic diagram showing the responsibilities of lead agencies (NEHAP) (Source:

NEHAP Malaysia, 2016).


effectively implemented without

cooperation from all players.

Environment rights and environmental

health are definitely important issues that REFERENCE

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Through Healthy Environments:

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affecting the present generation but also will

Environmental Burden Disease.

have impact on future generations. In line

World Health Organization.

with United Nations policies, Malaysia have

a long list of environmental legislations; Aarhus Convention on Access to

however, these instruments could not be

Information, Public Participation

in Decision-Making and Access to

ISBN: 978-967-14475-0-5; eISBN: 978-967-14475-1-2 57

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016)

Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

Justice in Environmental Matters

(Aarhus, 25 June 1998).

Additional Protocol to the American

Convention on Human Rights (San

Salvador Protocol, 17 November


Adong bin Kuwau & Ors v Kerajaan

Negeri Johor and Anor (1997) 1 MLJ

418 (High Court); (1998) 1 CLJ

Supp. 419.

African Charter on Human and Peoples’

Rights (Banjul, 27 June 1981).

Arab Charter on Human Rights (Tunis,

22 May 2004).

Asia Pacific Forum on Human Rights and

the Environment. (2007). Final

Report and Recommendations.


Boyd, D. R. (2011). The Implicit

Constitutional Right to Live in a

Healthy Environment. Review of

European Community &

International Environmental Law

2(20), 171.

Dowdeswell, E. (1994). Development of

International Law. Juridisk &


Hungary v Slovakia (1997). ICJ Rep. 151

at 206

Law, D. (2011). The Evolution and

Ideology of Global

Constitutionalism. California Law

Review, pp.1163-1257.

Ministry of Science, Technology and

Environment. (1992). Report of

Mohd Anuar

Environmental Law Review

Committee, Department of

Environment. Kuala Lumpur:

Ministry of Science, Technology and


Mohammad, N. (2011). Urban

Environmental POllution in

Malaysia: A Case Study. British

Journal of Humanities and Social

Sciences 3(1), 46.

Mohammad, N. (2014). Environmental

Rights for Administering Clean ad

Healthy Environments Towards

Susainable Development in

Malaysia: A Case Study.

International Journal of Business

and Management 9(8), 191.

Mukherjee, R. (2002). Environmental

Management and Awareness Issues.

New Delhi: Sterling Publishers

Private Limited.

NEHAP Malaysia. Retrieved from

nehapmalaysia on 15 Ogos 2016:

Rahman, H. A. (2010). Human Rights to

Environment in Malaysia. Health

and the Environment Journal 1(1),


Shradha Sinha, m. s. (2005). A Text Book

of Environmental Studies. New

Delhi: AITBS Publishers &


Tan Tek Seng v Suruhanjaya

Perkhidmatan Pendidikan (1996) 2 CLJ

771, at 801.

Weissbrodt, D. (2007). International

Human Rights Law: An Introduction.

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Environmental Legislations in Malaysia

Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Mohd Anuar

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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P60-73

The Echinoderm (Sea Cucumber) Fisheries in the Indo-

Pacific Region: Emerging Prospects, Potentials, Culture and


M. Aminur Rahman 1, * and Fatimah Md. Yusoff 1, 2

1 Laboratory of Marine Biotechnology, Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400

UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; 2 Department of Aquaculture, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti

Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

*Corresponding author; Email: /


Echinoderms belong to the bottom-dwelling sessile invertebrates are considered as the highvalued

marine bioresource, having profound biological, ecological, aquacultural, conservational,

nutritional and pharmaceutical significance. The phylum Echinodermata is divided into five extant

classes: Asteroidea (sea stars), Ophiuroidea (brittle stars), Echinoidea (sea urchins and sand

dollars), Crinoidea (sea lilies or feather stars) and Holothuroidea (sea cucumbers). Among them,

the sea cucumbers are both commercially fished and heavily overexploited. The principal product

in the sea cucumber, is the boiled and dried body-wall or ‘beche-de-mer’ for which there is

an increasing demand in many tropical and subtropical countries and also have long been considered

as a priced delicacy and medicinal cure for the peoples of Asia over many decades. In the

nutritional point of view, sea cucumbers are enriched with valuable nutrients such as Vitamin A,

Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), and minerals, especially

calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. A comprehensive number of unique biological and pharmacological

activities including anti-angiogenic, anticoagulant, anticancer, anti-hypertension, antiinflammatory,

antimicrobial, antioxidant, antithrombotic, antitumor and wound healing have

been attributed to various species of sea cucumbers. They have also long been well recognized as

a tonic and traditional remedy in Chinese and Malaysian literature for their effectiveness against,

asthma, rheumatism, tuberculosis, stomach and duodenum ulceration, diabetes, aplastic anaemia,

cuts and burns, impotence and constipation. In order to meet up the increasing market demands,

the collection of sea cucumbers from the wild has seen a depletion of this resource in the traditional

fishing grounds close to Asia and more recently the expansion of this activity to new and

more distant fishing grounds. Presently, there has been documented that, sea cucumbers fisheries

are harvesting around most of the resource range areas, including the remote parts of the Pacific,

the Galapagos Islands, Chile and the Russian Federation. This review shows that sea cucumber

stocks are under intense fishing pressure in many parts of the world and need effective aquaculture

management and conservation measures. It also shows that sea cucumbers provide an important

contribution to economies and livelihoods of coastal communities, being the most commercially

important fishery and non-finfish export in many countries. Reconciling the need for

conservation with the socio-economic importance of sea cucumber fisheries is shown to be a

challenging endeavour, particularly for the countries with limited management capacity. Current

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The Echinoderm Fisheries in the Indo-Pacific Region

Rahman and Yusoff

research directions are looking at diversifying technology to increase success in a range of

coastal conditions, better understanding the social and biophysical conditions required for success,

and finding ways of effectively scaling-out developed systems and culture technology.

Moreover, no single management measure will work optimally due to the many eccentricities of

these important fisheries, which are outlined in this document through a brief review of their biological,

ecological, aquacultural, biomedicinal, conservational, economic and social dimensions.

Keywords: Aquaculture; beche-de-mer; biomedicine; breeding; larval rearing; life cycle;

nutraceuticals; sea cucumber


In the recent decades, invertebrate fisheries

have expanded in catch and value worldwide

(Anderson et al., 2011). One increasingly

harvested marine invertebrates group is sea

cucumbers, belong to the class Holothuroidea

under the phylum Echinodermata,

which usually occur in the shallow benthic

areas and deep seas across the world

(Bordbar et al., 2011). Sea cucumbers are

elongated tubular or flattened soft-bodied

marine benthic invertebrates, typically with

leathery skin, ranging in length from a few

millimetres to a metre (Backhuys, 1977;

Lawrence, 1987). Holothuroids encompass

14000 known species (Pawson, 2007) and

occur in most benthic marine habitats

worldwide, in temperate and tropical oceans,

and from the intertidal zone to the deep sea

(Hickman et al., 2006). The fisheries of sea

cucumber have expanded worldwide in

catch and value over the past two to three

decades (Conand, 2004; FAO, 2008). Global

sea cucumber production increased from

130,000 t in 1995 to 411,878 t in 2012

(Rahman et al., 2015). Among other aquatic

animals, overall production of dried sea cucumbers

has increased rapidly (Figure 1).

However, sea cucumber fisheries in Asian

countries (China, Japan, India, Philippines,

Indonesia and Malaysia) have been depleted

due to overexploitation as well as lack of

effective management and conservation

strategies. The major product in the sea cucumber

is the boiled and dried body-wall,

familiarly known as ‘beche-de-mer’ or

‘gamat’, for which there is an increasing

demand for food delicacy and folk medicine

in the communities of Asia and Middle East

(Yaacob et al., 1997; Huizeng, 2001;

Bordbar et al., 2011). There is also a trade in

sea cucumbers for home aquaria and biomedical

products (Bruckner et al., 2003).

Sea cucumber fisheries had rapidly grown

and expanded due to the growing beche-demer-related

international market, supported

by continuing demand of these organisms

for aquaculture and biomedical research

programs (Kelly, 2005; Bordbar et al.,

2011). They have high commercial value

coupled with increasing global production

and trade and therefore, commercially fished

and heavily overexploited in some areas

(Kelly, 2005; Bordbar et al., 2011). The

widespread and growing interest in this

commodity is indicative of strong marketbased

drivers to increase production of sea

cucumber (Brown et al., 2010). It also

shows that sea cucumbers provide an important

contribution to economies and livelihoods

of coastal communities, being the

most economically important fishery and

non-finfish export in many countries (Toral-

Granda et al., 2008). Reconciling the need

for conservation with the socio-economic

importance of sea cucumber fisheries is

shown to be a challenging endeavour, particularly

for the countries with limited management

capacity. Moreover, no single management

measure will work optimally due to

the many idiosyncrasies of these fisheries.

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The Echinoderm Fisheries in the Indo-Pacific Region

Many sea cucumber fisheries still have no

management system or restrictions, and for

those that do, the scenario for catches to

continue even at a reduced level is poor

(Kelly, 2005). Cultivation of these species

increasingly becomes a necessity, both for

stock enhancement programs and as a means

to meet up market demand.



Rahman and Yusoff

The species of sea cucumber targeted for

culture, belong to two families, the depositfeeding

Aspidochirotida, which includes the

Holothuriidae and the Stichopodidae, and

the suspension feeding Dendrochirotida,

which includes the genus Cucumaria. The

cultivatable species of sea cucumbers are

dioecious, broadcast spawners, the fertilized

eggs developing into planktonic larvae before

settling and undergoing metamorphosis

to the juvenile sea cucumber. The average

life span of a sea cucumber is thought to be

5–10 years and most species first reproduce

at 2–6 years. A number of species are reported

to reproduce asexually by fission, and

this has been examined as a technique to

propagate commercially important species

(Reichenbach et al., 1996). They also have

the capability to eviscerate part or all of their

internal organs as a defence against predation,

the shed organs being rapidly regenerated.

Cultivation of sea cucumbers originated

in Japan in the 1930s and juveniles of

the temperate species Stichopus japonicus

(Figure 2A) were first produced in 1950

(Battaglene et al., 1999). During the last 15

years, commercial production in Japan has

accelerated, where annually an estimated 2.5

million juveniles are released. In China, cul-

Figure 1: World sea cucumber fisheries production from 1950 to 2012 (Rahman et al., 2015).

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Rahman and Yusoff

tured rather than fished S. japonicus now

account for around 50% of the country’s estimated

annual production of dry sea cucumber

(Kelly, 2005). Procedures for mass

culture of the tropical Holothuria scabra

(Figure 2B) are now well established and

practiced in Australia, India, Indonesia, the

Maldives and the Solomon Islands

(Battaglene et al., 1999). Other tropical species

in culture include Actinopyga mauritania

(Figure 2C) and H. fuscogilva (Figure

2D), with the focus of the research effort

centered on the production of juveniles in

hatcheries for the restoration and enhancement

of wild stocks (Ramofafia et al., 1996,


Brood stock of Stichopus japonicus

is usually collected from the wild in spring,

when they attain appropriate sexual maturity

(Kelly, 2005). The broodstock is most commonly

induced to spawn through thermal

stimulation, by increasing the seawater temperature

in holding tanks by 3–5°C for 1 h.

Generally, H. scabra has a biannual peak in

gonadosomatic index, indicating two spawning

periods a year, but closer to the equator a

proportion of the population spawns yearround

(Battaglene et al., 1999; Kelly, 2005).

Fertilization occurs spontaneously once the

gametes are allowed to mix in seawater; the

fertilized eggs are held in suspension by aer-





Figure 2: Major commercially important species of sea cucumbers in aquaculture: A) Stichopus

japonicas, B) Holothuria scabra, C) Actinopyga mauritania and D) Holothuria fuscogilva

(Rahman, 2014a, b).

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Rahman and Yusoff

-ation and egg development is rapid. Larval

life cycle of H. scabra is almost around 14

days at 28°C, including the feeding or auricularia

stage, the doliolaria or non-feeding

stage and settling pentacula stage (Figure 3

and 4). As with many other larval Echinoderms,

sea cucumber larvae are fed a mixture

of microalgal species, with the number

of algal cells provided gradually being increased

over the larval life to be completed.

Holothuria scabra larvae can feed and grow

well on a diet of the red microalgae

Rhodomonas salina and the brown diatom

Chaetoceros calcitrans (Battaglene et al.,

1999; Kelly, 2005).

Metamorphosis and settlement are

critical stages in the development and culture

of sea cucumber larvae. High survival is

dependent on the larvae being competent to

metamorphose and then responding to settlement

cues. Competent pentacula (Figure

4C) larvae are provided with a substrate of

bacteria and diatoms, which provide the appropriate

settlement cues, and to which they

adhere with their buccal podia. Typically,

Figure 3: Spawning, fertilization and a 14-day larval life-cycle of a cultured sea cucumber (Holothuria

scabra) at a water temperature of 28 o C (FAO, 2008; Bruckner et al., 2003).

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Rahman and Yusoff




Figure 4: Developmental stages of Holothuria scabra: A) Auricularia; B) Doliolaria; C) Pentactula;

and D) Early juvenile.


S. japonicus settles on PVC plates coated

with small periphytic diatoms such as Navicula,

Amphora, Achnanthes and Nitzchia

sp. The plates are coated in outdoor tanks in

direct sunlight, although the light intensity,

nutrient enrichment and copepod levels must

be controlled to produce suitable plates

(Kelly, 2005). Leaves of the sea grass (Thallassia

hemprichii) are the preferred settlement

substrate of H. scabra and soluble extracts

of the leaves have been shown to induce

settlement onto clean plastic surfaces

(Kelly, 2005). Post-settlement juvenile sea

cucumbers are grown either on diatomcoated

plates, held in fine mesh bags in

tanks or on the bottom of tanks, where juveniles

of 10–20 mm are transferred to a fine

sand substrate and fed a diet supplemented

by algal extracts or powdered algae. Newly

settled juveniles (Fig. 4D) attach firmly to

settlement surfaces and can be difficult to

detach. Throughout the juvenile stage it is

necessary to periodically detach the juveniles

from the substrate for grading, transfer

between tanks or to supply fresh substrates.

KCl (0.5–1%) in seawater is an effective

agent for detaching H. scabra from settlement

surfaces (Kelly, 2005). The use of KCl

does not harm juvenile sea cucumbers but

does effectively kill some tropical copepods

(Battaglene et al., 1999).

After a nursery phase of 6-month,

when the juvenile S. japonicus grows to a

length of 4–8 cm, are released to managed

areas of the seafloor. They are recovered

after 1 year when they measure approximately

20 cm (Kelly, 2005). There is a lack

of information on growth rates and survivorship

in tropical species, and, as with all Holothuria,

measurements of growth are complicated

by their ability to change shape,

eviscerate and retain water and sediment in

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The Echinoderm Fisheries in the Indo-Pacific Region

the gut and coelomic cavity (Kelly, 2005).

However, Battaglene et al. (1999) suggest

there should be no impediment to the largescale

production of juvenile H. scabra for

stock enhancement programs provided they

can be released at a size of 6 cm and with a

weight of 20 g. The three months it takes to

reach juvenile H. scabra of this size (Figure

5) and the ease of rearing them under active

consideration for grow-out culture and stock

enhancement (Battaglene et al., 1999).

Figure 5: Three-month old juveniles of H.

scabra for grow-out culture and stock enhancement.

Rahman and Yusoff

Aquaculture, sea ranching and re

stocking have been evaluated as possible

solutions to wild sea cucumber overexploitation,

and some countries have started such

ventures (e.g. Australia, China, Kiribati,

Philippines, Viet Nam and Madagascar).

Restocking has been considered an expensive

remedy to overfishing. Currently, China

is successfully producing an estimated

10,000 tons, dry weight, of Stichopus japonicus

from aquaculture, mainly to supply local

demand. Due to the prawn diseases happened

in 1990s, a lots of prawn ponds are

unused, so the farmers started pond culture

of sea cucumber in Shan Dong province and

Dalian. Currently pond culture has become

the most suitable method of sea cucumber

farming (Figure 6). In the Asia Pacific region,

aquaculture is still in the early development

stages, with one species of sea cucumber

(Holothuria scabra) in trials to ascertain

the commercial viability of culture

and farming options. Many additional

threats have been identified for sea cucumber

populations worldwide, including global

warming, habitat destruction, unsustainable

fishing, the development of fisheries with

little or no information on the species, and

lack of natural recovery after overexploitation.

Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported

(IUU) fisheries are widespread in all regions,

representing an indirect threat as it

fuels unsustainable practices and socioeconomic

demand. The critical status of sea

cucumber fisheries worldwide is compounded

by different factors including i) the lack

of financial and technical capacity to gather

basic scientific information to support management

plans, ii) weak surveillance and

enforcement capacity, and iii) lack of political

will and socio-economic pressure exerted

by the communities that rely on this fishery

as an important source of income. The

fast pace of development of sea cucumber

fisheries to supply the growing international

demand for beche-de-mer is placing most

fisheries and many sea cucumber species at

risk. The pervasive trend of overfishing, and

mounting examples of local economic extinctions,

urges immediate action for conserving

stocks biodiversity and ecosystem

functioning and resilience from other stressors

than overfishing (e. g. global warming

and ocean acidification), and therefore sustaining

the ecological, social and economic

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The Echinoderm Fisheries in the Indo-Pacific Region

benefits of these natural resources (Toral-

Granda et al., 2008).



Rahman and Yusoff

Majority of the recently available functional

foods and therapeutic agents are derived either

directly or indirectly from a wide variety

of terrestrial plants and marine organisms.

Owing to the richest oceanic biodiversity,

marine organisms are valuable sources of

nutritious foods as well as represent novel

reservoirs of biologically active compounds

with biomedical applications. Sea cucumbers

are one of the benthic marine invertebrates

which are important as human food

source, particularly in some parts of Asia.

Sea cucumbers have been well recognized as

a tonic and traditional remedy in Chinese

and Malaysian literature for their effectiveness

against hypertension, asthma, rheumatism,

cuts and burns, impotence and constipation

(Weici, 1987; Yaacob et al., 1997;

Wen et al., 2010). Nutritionally, sea cucumbers

have an impressive profile of valuable

nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B1

(thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin

B3 (niacin), and minerals, especially calcium,

magnesium, iron and zinc (Tian et al.,

2005). A number of unique biological and

pharmacological activities including antiangiogenic

(Tian et al., 2005), anticancer

(Roginsky et al., 2004), anticoagulant (Nagase

et al., 1995; Chen et al., 2011), antihypertension

(Hamaguchi et al., 2010), antiinflammatory

(Collin, 2004), antimicrobial

(Beauregard et al., 2001), antioxidant (Althunibat

et al., 2009), antithrombotic

(Mourao et al., 1998), antitumor (Zou et al.,

2003) and wound healing (San Miguel-Ruiz

and García-Arrarás, 2007) have been attributed

to various species of sea cucumbers.

Therapeutic properties and medicinal

benefits of sea cucumbers can be linked to

the presence of a wide array of bioactive

compounds, especially triterpene glycosides

(saponins) (Kerr and Chen, 1995), chondroitin

sulfates (Vieira et al., 1991), glycosaminoglycan

(Pacheco et al., 2000), sulfated

polysaccharides (Mourao, and Pereira,

1999), sterols (glycosides and sulfates)

(Goad et al., 1985, phenolics (Mamelona et

al., (2007), (Sugawara et al., 2007), lectins

(Mojica and Merca, 2005), peptides

(Rafiuddin et al., 2004), glycoprotein, glycosphingolipids

and essential fatty acids

Figure 6: Pictures showing some successful aquaculture practices of sea cucumbers in earthen

ponds at Shan Dong province and Dalian in China (Rahman, 2014b).

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The Echinoderm Fisheries in the Indo-Pacific Region

Rahman and Yusoff

(Bordbar et al., 2011). This review is mainly

designed to cover the high-value components

and bioactive compounds as well as

the multiple biological and therapeutic properties

of sea cucumbers with respect to exploring

their potential and significant uses

for functional foods, nutraceutical and

pharmaceutical products human health benefits

(Rahman et al., 2014; Zulfaqar et al.,

2016a, b). So far, numerous studies have

been conducted on sea cucumbers, however,

profound potentials still exist to isolate,

identify and characterize new compounds

from different parts of various species of

this high-valued marine invertebrate for

their chemical structure and detailed biological

properties using spectroscopic and biomedical

approaches and bioactivity-directed

assays to a greater extent.



We are aware of active research programs in

the Philippines (hatchery, nursery systems,

sea ranching, co-culture, pond culture), Vietnam

(hatchery, pond culture, co-culture,

sea ranching), Thailand (pond culture, sea

ranching) and Malaysia (hatchery, sea

ranching). Strong institutional support, as

well as donor-funded programs, in particular,

will ensure continued development of

sea-ranching and pond-culture systems. Current

research in these countries is focusing

on technology and system development to

diversify options for producers, and on further

understanding the optimal socioeconomic

and biophysical preconditions for

successful enterprises. Models for scaling

out technology and catalyzing uptake by

small-scale producers are being tested across

broad geographic regions. The pond-culture

industry in Vietnam, for example, is currently

growing ‘organically’, with around a dozen

farmers involved. This provides good opportunities

for future research in partnership

with industry. In the Philippines, a major

focus in the near future will be capacity

building among local institutions to support

early entrants into the sea-ranching industry.

The establishment of model enterprises is

expected to provide a strong basis for technology


Generally, aquaculture operations for

marine species do not start until the wild

capture has been diminished to a point

where incomes and lifestyle of the people

involved are affected when the wild stocks

decline, high market demand for food,

nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals raises the

price of the product and, as a result, culturing

is most likely to become viable commercially.

As this article shows, there have been

dramatic advances in the culture methods of

sea cucumbers in the last 15–20 years, we

can conclude that currently the major obstacles

to successful cultivation are indeed financial

rather than biological and ecological

(Kelly, 2005; Rahman et al., 2015). Therefore,

the fate of the sea cucumber industry is

narrowly linked to that of the fisheries,

whose fate will ultimately determine the

market forces that will shape this rising industry

in a very productive, significant and

worthwhile manner.


The authors would like to express their sincere

thanks and appreciations to Universiti

Putra Malaysia (UPM) for providing financial

supports through Research Management

Centre (RMC) under the Grant Putra (GP-I)

grant vide [Project No. GPI/2014/9450100]

to successfully carry out this work.


Althunibat, O. Y., Ridzwan, B. H., Taher,

M., Jamaludin, M. D., Ikeda, M. A.

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The Echinoderm Fisheries in the Indo-Pacific Region

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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P74-88

Environment and Its Impact on Human Health

Sridevi Chigurupati 1 *, Jahidul Islam Mohammad 2 and Kesavanarayanan Krishnan

Selvarajan 3

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, AIMST University, Semeling,

08100, Bedong, Kedah, Malaysia

2 Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Cyberjaya University College of Medical

Sciences, CUCMS, Cyberjaya, 63000, Malaysia

3 Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, University of Hail, Hail,

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. *Corresponding author; Email:


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines “health” as a state of complete physical, mental

and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. There always exists a

permanent relationship between humans and his environment, our health is to a considerable

extent determined by the environmental quality. The connotations between environmental

pollution and health outcome are, however, complex and often poorly described. Stages of

exposure are often uncertain or unknown because of lack of detailed observations and

predictable variations within any population group. Exposures may occur through a range of

pathways and exposure processes. This book chapter discusses the impact of few important

environmental factors and their impact on human health.

Keywords: Environment; human health; pollutants; pollution


The relationship between human health and

the physical environment is both obvious

and obscure. The environment in which

human beings survive, work and relax, is

determining his health and well-being.

Mentally and physically many facets of

environment like physical, chemical as well

as microbiological factors can have

repercussions on our health, both physically

and mentally (Daughton and Ternes, 1997;

Halden, 2008; Halden, 2010). However, the

relation between environment and health is

extremely complicated. Despite many health

problems are believed to be associated with

environmental pollution, it is difficult to

measure the seriousness, extent, significance

and causes of environment-related diseases.

Besides environmental-related factors, there

are other causes which can directly or

indirectly lead to the same health issues

(Blumenthal and Ruttenber, 1995;

Nadakavukaren, 1995; Moeller, 1997;

Morgan, 1997).

The term environment also covers

the influences of external living and nonliving,

factual and non-factual factors that

surround human. In its modern concept,

environment includes not only the water, air

and soil that form our environment, but also

the communal and commercial conditions

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Environment and Its Impact on Human Health

under which we live (ReVelle and ReVelle,

1992; Wildavsky, 1995).

For expressive purpose, environment

has been dispersed into three main

components as follows:

a) Physical: Water, air, soil, wastes,

radiation, etc.

b) Biologic: Plant and animal life

including bacteria, viruses, insects, rodents

and animals, and

c) Social: Customs, culture, habits,

income, occupation, religion etc.

The fundamental to man's health lies

mostly in his environment. In fact, much of

man's ill-health can be outlined to hostile

environmental factors such as water

pollution, soil pollution, air pollution, poor

housing conditions, presence of animal

reservoirs and insect vectors of diseases

which stance a constant threat to man's

health. However, often a man is responsible

for the pollution of his environment through

urbanization, industrialization and other

human activities (Park, 2011).

The fundamental connection between

human health related effects and distribution

of specific substances in that specific

environment had been often tough or not

perceptible. The specific contribution of

each of the different causes of health

problems is difficult to determine.

Sridevi et al

and mud) and microscopic organisms also

contaminate the water. These impurities are

generally derived from the atmosphere,

catchment area and the soil. However, the

urbanization and industrialization are the

main causes of the water pollution. The

sources of pollution resulting from

urbanization and industrialization are: (a)

sewage, which contains decomposable

organic matter and pathogenic agents, (b)

industrial and trade wastes, which contain

toxic agents ranging from metal salts to

complex synthetic organic chemicals, (c)

agricultural pollutants, which comprise

fertilizers and pesticides, and (d) physical

pollutants, via heat (thermal pollution) and

radioactive substances (Abdel-Shafy et al.,



Pure sterilized water does not occur in

nature. It contains numerous of impurities as

well as natural and man-made (Figure

1A&B) environmental water pollutants. The

natural impurities are not fundamentally

dangerous. These consist of dissolved gases

(e.g. nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen

sulphide, etc.) and dissolved minerals (e.g.

salts of calcium, magnesium, sodium, etc.)

which are natural elements of water.

Suspended impurities (e.g. clay, silt, sand

Figure 1(A&B): Examples of man-made

water pollution.

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Environment and Its Impact on Human Health

Effects on human health

Men's health may be affected by the

ingestion of contaminated water either

directly or through food, and by the use of

contaminated water for purpose of personal

hygiene and recreation (Table 1). The term

water-related disease includes the classical

waterborne diseases. Developing countries

carry a heavy burden of water-related

diseases, the heaviest being the diarrhoeal

diseases (Li et al., 2016).

Table 1: Classification of water-related



agent / Water-borne diseases

Aquatic host

A. Those caused by the presence of an

infective agent

a. Bacterial Typhoid and Paratyphoid

fever, Bacillary dysentery,

Diarrhoea, cholera

b. Helminthic Roundworm, Threadworm,

Hydatid disease

c. Leptospiral Weil's disease

d. Protozoal Amoebiasis, Giardiasis

e. Viral Viral hepatitis A, Hepatitis

E, Poliomyelitis, Rotavirus

diarrhoea in infants

B. Those due to the presence of an aquatic


a. Cyclops Guinea worm, Fish tape


b. Snail Schistosomiasis

Chemical pollutants from industrial

and agricultural wastes are progressively

finding their way into community water

supplies. These pollutants include detergent

solvents, cyanides, heavy metals, minerals

and organic acids, nitrogenous substances,

bleaching agents, dyes, pigments, sulphides,

ammonia, toxic and biocidal organic

compounds of great variety. Chemical

pollutants may affect a men's health not only

directly, but also indirectly by accumulated

Sridevi et al

pollutants in aquatic life (e.g. fish) used as

human food. The concern about chemical

pollutants in water relates not so much as to

their acute toxic effects on human health as

to the possible long-term effects of low level

exposure, which are often non-specific and

difficult to detect (Vrzel et al., 2016).

In addition to the above, water

quality is also linked with the following:

(a) Dental health: The presence of

fluoride at about 1 mg/L in drinking water is

known to protect against dental caries; but,

high levels of fluoride cause mottling of the

dental enamel.

(b) Cyanosis in infant: High nitrate

content of water is associated with

methemoglobinemia. This is a rare

occurrence, but may occur when surface

water from farmland, treated with a

fertilizer, gain access to the water supply.

(c) Cardiovascular diseases:

Hardness of water appears to have a

beneficial effect against cardiovascular


(d) Some diseases are transmitted

because of inadequate use of water like

shigellosis, trachoma and conjunctivitis,

ascariasis, scabies.

(e) Some diseases are related to the

disease carrying insects breeding in or near

water, like: malaria, filaria, arboviruses,

onchocerciasis, and African trypanosomiasis

(also known as sleeping sickness).

While water pollution seems to be an

inevitable consequence of modern industrial

technology, currently, the challenge is to

determine the level of pollution that permits

economic and social development without

presenting hazards to health. The evaluation

of the health effects of environmental

pollutants is currently being carried out by

researchers as part of the WHO’s

environmental health criteria programme

(Giudice, 2016).

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Environment and Its Impact on Human Health


Soil is a dynamic part of the natural

environment. It is just as important as

plants, animals, rocks, landforms and rivers.

It affects the distribution of plant species and

provides an environment for a wide range of

organisms (Adriano et al., 1999, Gardiner

and Miller 2008; Rajesh et al., 2016). It

controls the movement of water and

chemical substances between the

atmosphere and the earth, and acts as both a

source and store for gases like oxygen and

carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Soils not

only record human activities both at present

and in the past, but also reflect natural

processes. Soil together with the plants and

animals life it supports, the rock on which it

develops its position in the landscape and

the climate it experiences, form an

amazingly intricate natural system powerful

and complex than any machine that human

being has created. Soil pollution does cause

huge disturbances in the ecological balance

and the health of the organisms.

To celebrate the importance of soil

and its vital contributions to human health

and safety, the International Union of Soil

Sciences established ‘the World Soil Day’ in

2002 (Pierzynski et al., 2005). On December

20, 2013, the 68 th UN General Assembly

recognized December 5 th , 2014 as World

Soil Day and 2015 as the International Year

of Soils.

Reasons for soil pollution

Soil pollution is the reason for fall in the

productivity of soil. Soil pollutants have a

hostile effect on the physical, chemical and

biological properties of the soil that leads to

the reduction in soil productivity. Increasing

urbanization, disposal of unprocessed

wastes, indiscriminate use of agrochemicals,

irrational mining, dumping industrial wastes,

unintentional and accidental

Sridevi et al

pollution/leakages, out-of-date technology,

inadequate treatment and safety

management of chemicals or waste materials

and also the lack of engineer designed

landfills, pesticides, fertilizers, organic

manure, chemicals, radioactive wastes,

discarded food, clothes, leather goods,

plastics, paper, bottles, tins-cans and

carcasses - all contribute towards causing

soil pollution. Chemicals like iron, lead,

mercury, copper, zinc, cadmium, aluminium,

cyanides, acids, and alkalis etc. are present

in industrial wastes that reach the soil either

directly with water or indirectly through the

air (e.g. through acid rain). The improper

and continuous use of herbicides, pesticides

and fungicides to protect the crops from

pests, fungi, etc. alter the basic composition

of the soils and make the soil toxic to plant

growth. Organic insecticides like DDT,

aldrin, benzene hexchloride, etc. are used

against soil borne pests. All these practices

also contribute to soil pollution.

Effects on human health

Generally, people can be exposed to

contaminants in soil through ingestion,

dermal exposure or inhalation. Soil

contamination leads to health risks due to

direct and indirect contact with

contaminated soil. Path of human exposure

to a soil contaminant is different with the

contaminant and with the conditions and

events at a particular site. The effects of

pollution on soil are quite alarming and can

result in huge disorders in the ecological

balance and health of man on earth. Crops

cannot grow and flourish in a polluted soil;

however, if some crops manage to grow,

then these crops might have absorbed the

toxic chemicals in the soil and might

lead to serious health problems in people

consuming them. Sometimes, the soil

pollution is in the form of increased salinity

of the soil. In such a case, the soil becomes

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unhealthy for vegetation. When soil

pollution modifies the soil structure, deaths

of many beneficial soil organisms (e.g.

Earthworms) in the soil could take place.

Other than further reducing the ability of the

soil to support life, this occurrence could

also have an effect on the larger predators

(e.g. Birds) and force them to move to other

places, in the search of food. Figure 2 shows

an example of man-made soil pollution.

People living near polluted land tend

to have higher incidences of migraines,

nausea, fatigue, skin disorders and even

miscarriages. Depending on the pollutants

present in the soil, some of the longer-term

effects of soil pollution include cancer,

leukaemia, reproductive disorders, kidney

and liver damage, and central nervous

system failure. These health problems could

be a result of direct poisoning of the polluted

land (e.g. children playing on land filled

with toxic waste) or indirect poisoning (e.g.

eating crops grown on polluted land,

drinking water polluted by the leaching of

chemicals from the polluted land to the

water supply, etc.).

Figure 2: Man-made soil polluted


Creating a clearly defined

management framework is critical to the

establishment of a national soil protection

management system, for consensus building

Sridevi et al

and joint effort of stakeholders.

Consequently, a soil management

framework that is consistent with the

national vision for soil environment

protection and reflects the comprehensive

‘Soil Environment Protection Act’ is

recommended to be established (Policy,



The term "air pollution" signifies the

presence in the ambient (surrounding)

atmosphere of substances (e.g., gases,

mixtures of gases and particulate matter)

generated by the activities of man in

concentrations that interfere with human

health, safety or comfort, or injurious to

vegetation and animals and other

environmental media resulting in chemicals

entering the food chain or being present in

drinking-water and thereby constituting

additional source of human exposure

(Lancet, 2016). The direct effect of air

pollutants on plants, animals and soil can

influence the structure and function of

ecosystems, including self-regulation ability,

thereby affecting the quality of life. In the

past, ‘air pollution’ meant smoke pollution

(Besis et al., 2016). Today, ‘air pollution

has become subtler and recognizes no

geographical or political boundaries. Air

pollution is one of the present-day health

problems throughout the world (Cai et al.,

2016). The diseases caused by air pollution

are shown in Table 2.

The following are the Sources of air


a. Automobiles: Motor vehicles are

a major source of air pollution throughout

the urban areas. They emit hydrocarbons,

carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides and

particulate matter.

b. Industries: Industries emit large

amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere.

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Table 2: Diseases caused by air pollution.





Inhaling various


poisonous gases and


constant suffocation

Obstructive owing to polluted air




Autism That is tendency to live

Birth defects

and immune

system defects






Liver and other

types of cancer



al disorders

in isolation

Due to constant

breathing in polluted air.

The inflammation and

swelling of the air

passages between nose to

lungs and throat to lungs.

Bad air quality and lot of

poisonous gases and

particulate matter

suspended in the air

cause heart diseases and


It’s a state of lungs when

tiny air sacs in them.

Exposure to benzene

vapours causes this

disease which is a type

of blood cancer.

Suspended carcinogenic

(cancer causing) matter

in the air is main cause

of all types of cancer

related to respiratory


Another type of lung

cancer because of

inhaling asbestos

particles suspended in

the air

Inhaling polluted air that

directly affects your

neuro system.






Weakening of

lung function

Sridevi et al

An infection of lungs

because of breathing

inside bacteria flying in

wind pressure and moves

into the respiratory

system of a person who

inhales polluted air.

The ultimate outcome of

constant inhaling of

polluted air.

Inhaling various

carcinogenic stuff

through polluted air

Constant inhaling of

contaminated air

Combustion of fuel to generate heat and

power produces smoke, sulphur dioxide,

nitrogen oxides and fly ash. Petrochemical

industries generate hydrogen fluoride,

hydrochloric acid and organic halides.

c. Domestic sources: Domestic

combustion of coal, wood or oil is a major

source of smoke, dust, and sulphur dioxide

and nitrogen oxides.

d. Smoking: The most direct and

important source of air pollution that affects

the health of many people is tobacco smoke.

Even those who do not smoke may inhale

the smoke produced by others ("passive


e. Miscellaneous: The following

various sources also contribute to air

pollution. These comprise burning refuse,

incinerators, pesticide spraying, natural

sources (e.g. windborne dust, fungi, moulds,

and bacteria) and nuclear energy

programmes (Chiang et al., 2016; Huang et

al., 2016; Daneshparvar et al., 2016).

Various air pollutants are as follows:

i) Carbon monoxide: Carbon

monoxide is one of the most common and

widely distributed air pollutants. It is a

product of incomplete combustion of carbon

containing materials such as incomplete

combustion of fuel by automobiles,

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industrial process, heating facilities and

incinerators. Estimates of man-made carbon

monoxide emission vary from 350 - 600

million tonnes per annum.

ii) Sulphur dioxide: Domestic fires,

power generation and motor vehicles can

also produce emissions containing sulphur

dioxide. It is one of the several forms in

which sulphur exists in the air. The others

include H 2 S, H 2 SO 4 and sulphate salts.

Sulphur dioxide (SO 2 ) is a colourless gas

with a sharp odour, results from the

combustion of sulphur containing fossil fuel,

the smelting of sulphur-containing ores, and

other industrial processes. When SO 2

combines with water, it forms sulphuric

acid; this is the main component of acid rain

which is a cause of deforestation. A SO 2

concentration of 500μg/m 3 should not be

exceeded over average periods of 10 min


iii) Lead: The combustion of alkyl

lead additives in motor fuels accounts for the

major part of all lead emissions into the

atmosphere. An estimated 80-90 % of lead

in ambient air is derived from the

combustion of leaded petrol. The mining of

lead ores creates pollution problems.

iv) Carbon dioxide: Enormous

amount of it in combustion process using

coal, oil and gas its global concentration is

rising above the natural level by an amount

that could increase global temperature

enough to affect climate markedly.

v) Hydrocarbons: Man-made

sources of hydrocarbons include

incineration, combustion of coal, wood,

processing and use of petroleum.

Hydrocarbons exert their pollutant action by

taking part in the chemical reactions that

cause photochemical smog.

vi) Cadmium: The steel industry,

waste incineration, volcanic action and zinc

production seem to account for the largest

emissions. Tobacco contains cadmium, and

smoking may contribute significantly to the

Sridevi et al

uptake of cadmium. Cigarettes may contain

from 0.5 to 3 μg cadmium/gram of tobacco.

vii) Hydrogen sulphide: Hydrogen

sulphide is formed during coke production,

in viscose rayon production, waste-water

treatment plants, wood pulp production

using the sulphate method, sulphur

extraction process, oil refining and in the

tanning industry. Hydrogen sulphide is the

main toxic substance involved in livestock

rearing systems with liquid manure storage.

viii) Ozone: The highest levels of

ozone pollution occur during periods of

sunny weather. It is formed by the

photochemical reaction of sunlight with

pollutants such as nitrogen oxides from

vehicle, industry emissions and volatile

organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by

vehicles, solvents and industry. The

previously recommended limit, which was

fixed at 120 μg/m 3 of 8-hour mean, has been

reduced to 100 μg/m 3 based on recent

conclusive associations between daily

mortality and ozone levels occurring at

ozone concentrations below 120 μg/m 3 .

ix) Oxides of nitrogen: Emission of

oxides of nitrogen occurs predominantly in

the form of nitric oxide, which comprises

around 95 % of nitrogen oxides from a

combustion source. Coal is the most

important fuel in this context; other sources

are road traffic and electricity generation.

The current air quality guidelines of WHO

the value is 40 μg/m 3 (WHO Air quality

guidelines for particulate matter, ozone,

nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, 2006)

(Kim et al., 2016; Liu et al., 2016; Singh et

al., 2016).

The detrimental health effects of air

pollution have always attracted intense

interest among researchers from around the

world. In 2010, WHO estimated that more

than 6 million people die prematurely every

year because of air pollution (Brunekreef

and Holgate, 2002). Both ambient air

pollution and indoor air pollution have been

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linked to various adverse health outcomes,

especially in people with pre-existing

medical conditions. Such controlled human

exposure studies might also enable a better

understanding of the underlying mechanisms

leading to possible adverse outcomes.

Ambient air contains many pollutants,

including gases such as ozone, oxides of

nitrogen, and Sulphur dioxide along with

particles of different sizes. Because of the

complexity of the composition of air

pollutants and the difficulty of precisely

measuring exposure, identifying the role of

different pollutants in respiratory morbidity

is no simple task. Among the various

pollutants, particulate matter with an

aerodynamic diameter of less than 2·5 μm

(PM2·5) have received a lot of attention

recently (Lim et. al., 2012). These small

particles are able to penetrate deep into the

small airways, alveoli, and blood stream,

where they can lead to subsequent

inflammation and vasoconstriction. WHO

has estimated that PM2·5 contributes to

roughly 800000 premature deaths per year

globally (Shah et al., 2013).



Infectious diseases emerging throughout

history have included some of the most

feared plagues of the past. Several factors

contribute to the emergence of infectious

diseases (Table 3). New infections continue

to emerge today, while many of the old

plagues are with us still (Ameli, 2015) and

are considered as a global problem. As

demonstrated by influenza epidemics, under

suitable circumstances, a new infection first

appearing anywhere in the world could

traverse entire continents within days or

weeks. Examples of emerging diseases in

various parts of the world include

HIV/AIDS; classic cholera in South

America and Africa; cholera due to Vibrio

Sridevi et al

cholerae O139; Rift Valley fever; hantavirus

pulmonary syndrome; Lyme disease; and

haemolytic uremic syndrome, a foodborne

infection caused by.certain strains of

Escherichia coli (Kamarulzaman et al.,


Most emerging infections appear to

be caused by pathogens already present in

the environment, brought out of obscurity or

given a selective advantage by changing

conditions and afforded an opportunity to

infect new host populations (on rare

occasions), a new variant may also evolve

and cause a new disease. The process by

which infectious agents may transfer from

animals to humans or disseminate from

isolated groups into new populations can be

called “microbial traffic”. A number of

human activity increase microbial traffic and

as a result promote the emergence and

epidemics. In some cases, including many of

the most novel infections, the agents are

zoonotic those transfer from their natural

hosts into the human population. In other

cases, pathogens already present in

geographically isolated populations are

given an opportunity to disseminate further.

Surprisingly often, disease emergence is

caused by human actions; however, natural

causes, such as changes in climate, can also

at times be responsible. Although this

discussion is confined largely to human

diseases, similar considerations apply to

emerging pathogens in other species.

Ecological interactions can be complex, with

several factors often working together or in

sequence. For example, population

movement from rural areas to cities can

spread a once-localized infection. The strain

on infrastructure in the overcrowded and

rapidly growing cities may disrupt or slow

public health measures, perhaps allowing the

establishment of the newly introduced

infection. Finally, the city may also provide

a gateway for further dissemination of the

infection. Most successful emerging

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Sridevi et al

Table 3: Factors in emergence of infectious diseases*.

Factor Examples of specific factors Examples of diseases

Ecological Agriculture; dams, changes in water Schistosomiasis (dams); Rift Valley

changes ecosystems; deforestation / fever (dams, irrigation); Argentine

(including reforestation; flood / drought; hemorrhagic fever (agriculture);

those due to famine; climate changes

Hantaan (Korean hemorrhagic fever)


(agriculture); hantavirus pulmonary


and land use)

syndrome, southwestern US, 1993

(weather anomalies)





travel and



and industry


adaptation and


Societal events: Population growth

and migration (movement from rural

areas to cities); war or civil conflict;

urban decay; sexual behavior;

intravenous drug use; use of Highdensity


Worldwide movement of goods and

people; air travel

Globalization of food supplies;

changes in food processing and

packaging; organ or tissue

transplantation; drugs causing

immunosuppression; widespread use

of antibiotics

Microbial evolution, response to

selection in environment

Introduction of HIV; spread of dengue;

spread of HIV and other sexually

transmitted diseases.

‘Airport’ malaria; dissemination of

mosquito vectors; rat borne

hantaviruses; introduction of cholera

into South America;

Dissemination of O139 V. cholera.

Haemolytic uremic syndrome (E. coli

contamination of hamburger meat);


spongiform encephalopathy;

transfusion-associated hepatitis

(hepatitis B, C); opportunistic

infections in immunosuppressed


Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from

contaminated batches of human growth

hormone (medical technology)

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria; “antigenic

drift” in influenza virus


public health



Curtailment or reduction in

prevention programs; inadequate

sanitation and

vector control measures

Resurgence of tuberculosis in the

United States; cholera in refugee

camps in Africa;

resurgence of diphtheria in the former

Soviet Union

*Adapted from Institute of Medicine (1992) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1994).

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Sridevi et al

infections, including HIV, cholera, and

dengue, have followed this route (Shima et

al., 2016).


Ionizing radiation is a type of energy

released by atoms in the form of

electromagnetic waves or particles. People

are exposed to natural sources of ionizing

radiation, such as in soil, water, and

vegetation, as well as in human-made

sources, such as x-rays and medical devices.

Living beings are exposed to natural

radiation sources as well as human-made

sources on a daily basis. Sixty naturallyoccurring

radioactive materials found in soil,

water and air are one of the reasons for the

natural radiation. A naturally-occurring gas,

radon which emanates from rock and soil is

the main source of natural radiation. People

inhale and ingest radionuclides from air,

food and water. People are also exposed to

natural radiation from cosmic rays,

particularly at high altitude (Little, 2003).

Exposure to radiation from humanmade

sources ranging from nuclear power

generation to medical usage of radiation for

diagnosis or treatments is considered

hazardous to the human health. Today, the

most common human-made sources of

ionizing radiation are medical devices,

including X-ray machines.


Ionizing radiation is a type of energy

released by atoms in the form of

electromagnetic waves or particles. People

are exposed to natural sources of ionizing

radiation, such as in soil, water, and

vegetation, as well as in human-made

sources, such as x-rays and medical devices.

Living beings are exposed to natural

radiation sources as well as human-made

sources on a daily basis. Sixty naturallyoccurring

radioactive materials found in soil,

water and air are one of the reasons for the

natural radiation. A naturally-occurring gas,

radon which emanates from rock and soil is

the main source of natural radiation. People

inhale and ingest radionuclides from air,

food and water. People are also exposed to

natural radiation from cosmic rays,

particularly at high altitude (Little, 2003).

Exposure to radiation from humanmade

sources ranging from nuclear power

generation to medical usage of radiation for

diagnosis or treatments is considered

hazardous to the human health. Today, the

most common human-made sources of

ionizing radiation are medical devices,

including X-ray machines.

Effects on human health

Acute health effects such as skin burns or

acute radiation syndrome can occur when

doses of radiation exceed certain levels. The

effect of cellular response of an organism’s

to ionizing radiation exposure at various

time intervals is shown in Figure 3. Low

doses of ionizing radiation can increase the

risk of long term effects such as cancer.

Pregnant women and children are especially

sensitive to radiation exposure. The cells in

children and fetuses divide rapidly,

providing more opportunity for radiation to

disrupt the process and cause cell damage.

Radiation damage to tissue and or organs

depends on the dose of radiation received, or

the absorbed dose which is expressed in a

unit called the Gray (Gy). Beyond certain

thresholds, radiation can impair the

functioning of tissues and or organs and can

produce acute effects such as skin redness,

hair loss, radiation burns, or an acute

radiation syndrome. These effects are more

severe at higher doses and higher dose rates.

If the radiation dose is low, but, over a long

period of time, there is still a risk of longterm

effects such as cancer; however, that

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Sridevi et al

Figure 3: Effect of ionizing radiation on cellular tissue damage. In seconds, it can break DNA

strands and cause oxidative damage to DNA, proteins, lipids, and other biomolecules; in

minutes, its exposure can alter the gene expression and modify some proteins. Long exposures

(days to years), results in acute organ failure leading to mortality or instability of gene that

causes cancer and birth defects and affects forthcoming generations.

may appear slowly over a long period of

time. This risk is higher for children and

adolescents, as they are significantly more

sensitive to radiation exposure than adults.

An organism’s response to ionizing

radiation consists of a complex set of

physical, chemical, and biological events.

Within seconds, radiation produces damage

to DNA and oxidizes proteins and DNA,

lipids, and other biomolecules. Within

minutes, the cell responds by changing the

activation of certain genes and modifying

some proteins. At high radiation doses, the

result may be acute organ failure leading to

death or genomic instability that causes

cancer and birth defects and affects future

generations (Fischbein et al., 1997; Aarkrog,

2003; Bréchignac, 2003; Alamri et al.,



When the question arises, what does the

future hold for our planet's natural

environment? Well, we have no crystal ball

to tell exactly what lies ahead, but we can

look at past data and current trends to make

future forecasts. This chapter has linked

environmental pollution to human health

with a hope that individuals of the society

should be aware of future consequences of

environmental pollution. It’s the

responsibility of every individual to

understand the seriousness of environmental

issues and to find the solution to break the

development of pollution hazards.

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Moeller, D. W. (1997). Environmental

Health (Revised Edition), Harvard

University Press, MA.

Morgan, M. T. (1997). Environmental

Health (2 nd Edition). Brown and

Benchmark Publishers. Dubuque,


Sridevi et al

Nadakavukaren, A. (1995). Our Global

Environment: A Health Perspective

(4 th Edition). Waveland Press.

Prospect Heights, IL.

Park, K. (2011). Park's Textbook of

Preventive and Social Medicine,

Banarsidas Bhanot.

Pierzynski, G. M., Vance, G. F. and Sims,

J.T. (2005). Soils and Environmental

Quality. Taylor & Francis: 2 nd edition.

Policy (1993). Committee on Long-Range

Soil and Water Conservation Policy,

Board on Agriculture, National

Research Council. Soil and Water

Quality: An Agenda for Agriculture,

National Academies Press.

Rajesh, K.M, Naseer, M. and

Roychoudhury, N. (2016). Soil

pollution: Causes, effects and

control. Van Sangyan 3, 1-13.

ReVelle, P. and ReVelle, C (1992). The

Global Environment: Securing a

Sustainable Future, Jones and


Shah, A.S., Langrish, J.P., Nair, H.,

McAllister, D.A., Hunter, A.L.,

Donaldson, K., Newby, D.E. and

Mills, N.L. (2013). Global association

of air pollution and heart failure: a

systematic review and meta-analysis.

Lancet 382, 1039-1048.

Shima, K., Coopmeiners, J.,

Graspeuntner, S., Dalhoff, K. and

Rupp, J. (2016). Impact of microenvironmental

changes on respiratory

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ong>Focusong> Environ (2016)

Environment and Its Impact on Human Health

tract infections caused by intracellular

bacteria. FEBS Lett. 590, 3887-3904.

Singh, D., Kumar, A., Kumar, K., Singh,

B., Mina, U., Singh, B.B. and Jain,

V.K. (2016). Statistical modeling of

O(3), NOx, CO, PM(2.5), VOCs and

noise levels in commercial complex

and associated health risk assessment

in an academic institution. Sci Total

Environ. 572, 586-594.

Vrzel, J., Vuković-Gačić, B., Kolarević,

S., Gačić, Z., Kračun-Kolarević, M.,

Kostić, J., Aborgiba, M.,

Farnleitner, A., Reischer, G., Linke,

R., Paunović, M. and Ogrinc, N.

Sridevi et al

(2016). Determination of the sources

of nitrate and the microbiological

sources of pollution in the Sava River

Basin. Sci Total Environ. 16, 31666-


WHO (2006). Europe. Air Quality

Guidelines: Global Update 2005:

Particulate Matter, Ozone, Nitrogen

Dioxide, and Sulfur Dioxide, World

Health Organization.

Wildavsky, A. (1995). But is it True? A

Citizen's Guide to Environmental

Health and Safety Issues, Harvard

University Press.

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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P89-94

Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios for Tracing

Food Web Connectivity

Debashish Mazumder

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Locked Bag 2001, Kirrawee

DC, NSW 2232, Australia

Phone No.: +61 2 9717 9219; Email:


Stable isotope analysis has increasingly been used in water resource management. Water is a

vital resource crucial to sustain the natural ecosystems upon which we all rely. Understanding

the source and fate of energy and nutrient dynamics in aquatic ecosystems is fundamental for the

sustainable management of aquatic resources to ensure food supply for the increasing world

population. This article provides an example of how analysis of naturally occurring carbon and

nitrogen stable isotopes were used to model the estuarine food web and quantify energy and

nutrient flows from estuarine wetland habitats to fish, an important source of animal protein for

millions of people worldwide.

Keywords: Aquatic; food web; management; stable isotope


The United Nations predict that the world’s

population will reach to 9.7 billion in 2050

and 11.2 billion in 2100. This means the

competition for land, water and energy will

increase many folds. Growing competition

for natural resources would affect long term

sustainability of agricultural production to

ensure food security for the people (Charles

et al., 2010). Water resource is central to

agriculture and rural development and

crucial in sustaining the natural ecosystems

upon which we all rely. Understanding the

source and fate of energy and nutrients in

aquatic ecosystems is fundamental for the

sustainable management of aquatic

resources. Aquatic foods play an important

role in human nutrition and global food

supply (Tacon and Metian 2013). Fish, for

example, currently represents the major

source of animal protein for about 1.25

billion people within 39 countries worldwide

(Khan et al., 2011), as well as a source of

livelihood for millions of people worldwide.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of

the United Nations reported that around 80%

of the world fish stocks are either fully

exploited or overexploited. This signifies the

importance and urgency of effective

management (SOFIA, 2009) for

conservation and sustainability of fish


Every ecosystem is driven by

nutrients and energy, whether it is small or

big, whether wetlands, rivers or ocean.

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Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios…

Understanding energy and nutrient dynamics

are fundamental for resource conservation

for future generations. If we are able to

determine the energetic links among animals

within a food web and their links with

primary resources, then we will be able to

quantify the impact of disturbances (i.e.,

anthropogenic and climate related) on

species of our interest, or on a community

level as well as the functionality of

ecosystems which we are dependent on for

our survival. Food web inter-connections are

very complex and often influenced by the

dynamics of physico-chemical processes,

biodiversity, habitat type, spatial extent and

degree of disturbance. Integrating cutting

age isotopic techniques such as analysis of

naturally-occurring carbon and nitrogen

stable isotope ratios ( 13 C/ 12 C and 15 N/ 14 N)

provide an important tool to model food

chain connectivity within food webs.



Over the last decade, stable isotopes have

been increasingly used in environmental

studies, and the stable isotopes of carbon

and nitrogen became a powerful way to trace

diet sources of aquatic animals (Peterson

and Fry 1987). Stable isotopes are different

naturally occurring forms of elements. There

are two stable atomic forms of carbon ( 13 C

and 12 C) and nitrogen ( 15 N and 14 N). Biota

assimilate both forms of C and N, and the

ratio of 13 C/ 12 C (δ 13 C) and 15 N/ 14 N (δ 15 N)

compared to a reference standard can be

determined by an analysis of sample. In the

laboratory, very small amounts of samples

(microgram to milligram level) are oven

dried at 60 o C for 48 hours then ground to a

fine powder. Powdered and homogenised

tissue samples are loaded into tin capsules,

and are analysed with a continuous flow

isotope ratio mass spectrometer (CF-IRMS)

to obtain the isotopic ratios of the samples.


The isotopic value of a consumer

tissue is tightly linked with its food

(Mazumder et al., 2016), when an animal

consumes a food the carbon and nitrogen

isotope ratios from food are transferred to

the consumer tissues. There is an increase in

the relative proportion of carbon-13 content

( 13 C/ 12 C ratio) and nitrogen-15 content

( 15 N/ 14 N ratio) of the animal due to selective

metabolic loss of the lighter isotopes during

assimilation, excretion and growth. An

animal is typically enriched in heavier 13 C

and 15 N relative to its diet by approximately

1‰ (DeNiro & Epstein, 1978) 3 to 4‰

(Minagawa & Wada, 1984) respectively.

This process is called trophic fractionation

or enrichment. Carbon isotope signatures are

used to trace the sources of diet, whilst

nitrogen isotope ratios reflect the relative

trophic position of organisms in the

ecosystem (Fry 2006, Post et al., 2002).

Stable isotope (δ 13 C and δ 15 N) analyses

provide chemically validated data from

which mathematical models about food web

connectivity can be developed. When δ 13 C

and δ 15 N signatures of organisms are plotted

together on a carbon and nitrogen ‘bi-plot’

(δ 13 C – X axis and δ 15 N – Y axis) trophic

relationships can be visualized, whereby an

organism’s position on the X axis indicates

their food source and Y axis indicates their

trophic level (Figure 1). Further to identify

food web relationships between animals,

source mixing calculation (i.e., IsoSource

mixing model; Phillips and Gregg, 2003) is

also used to quantify the contribution of diet

sources to consumer animal (Boecklen et al.,



Estuaries are ecologically important places

due to their high productivity and provision

of a number of functional services. Estuaries

are nursery habitats for many species of fish,

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Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios…

Figure 1: Schematic diagram of food chain

connections between primary producers and

consumer species. Trophic fractionation

factors are in bold.

prawn and crabs (Blaber, 2000; Nagelkerken

et al., 2008). Some species spend the

majority of their life in the estuary, some

move regularly into estuaries, and others are

short-term visitors from the inshore marine

waters. The abundance of animals in

estuaries and their ecosystem services are

linked to the primary productivity, the

spatial coverage of various substrates and

the availability of wetland habitats such as

seagrass, mangrove and saltmarshes.

Mangroves and saltmarshes have long been

linked with productive fisheries based on the

regional-scale comparisons of fisheries

landings data (Meynecke et al., 2008;

Saintilan et al., 2014). Understanding the

energy and nutrient pathways, trophic

linkages between estuarine animals and

wetland (seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh)

carbon sources are important for the

conservation of food webs vital to ensure

healthy ecosystem services for human


To quantify the trophic connectivity,

Mazumder et al., (2011) used stable isotope


techniques and analysed carbon and nitrogen

isotope values of primary producers and

consumers collected from seagrass,

mangrove and saltmarsh wetlands. Their

work also analysed isotopic values of a

range of fish species collected from estuary

and quantified food chain linkages (Figure


Research conducted in temperate

estuaries in Australia found that Grapsid

crabs living in saltmarsh and mangrove

habitats are keystone species in the estuarine

ecosystem. These crabs produce a huge

quantity of larvae during spring tides which

are exported to estuarine water through ebb

tides (Mazumder et al., 2006; Mazumder et

al., 2009; Platel and Freewater 2009).

Glassfish (Ambassid jacksoniensis) is one of

the abundant species in the estuary that

relies on crab larvae exported from the

saltmarsh through ebb tides (Mazumder et

al., 2006; Hollingsworth and Connolly

2006). Crabs living in the saltmarsh rely on

autotrophic production, mostly C4 carbon

and benthic organic materials for their diets

(Guest et al., 2004; Saintilan and Mazumder

2010; Alderson et al., 2013). Crabs produce

larvae which are significant sources of

energy for estuarine glassfish. Subsequently,

the glassfish has significant food chain links

with two top-order predatory fish species

such as bream (Acanthopagrus australis)

and mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicas)

(Mazumder et al., 2011). This is an example

that illustrates the significance of trophic

relay (Kneib 1997) between the estuarine

wetlands and commercially valuable fish

species in estuary. Food web models based

on isotopic data (Figure 2) help identify

trophic linkages between species, the

importance of autotrophic carbon to benthic

macro-invertebrates (crabs) and energy and

nutrient flow from estuarine habitats to toporder

fish species in the food webs. Thus

conservation of commercially valuable fish

species in the estuary is related to the

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Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios…


Figure 2: Energy and nutrient flow model of an estuarine food web (Adopted from Mazumder et

al., 2011).

conservation of wetlands. Without

understanding these dynamics, ecosystem

services of ecosystems cannot be protected

for human wellbeing.


The author is thankful to Dr. Jagoda

Crayford (ANSTO) for helping to draw

Figure 2 using Ecopath.


Alderson, B., Mazumder, D., Saintilan,

N., Zimmerman, K. and Mulry, P.

(2013). Application of isotope mixing

models to discriminate dietary sources

over small-scale patches in saltmarsh.

Marine Ecology Progress Series 487,


Blaber, S. J. M. (2000). Tropical Estuarine

Fishes Ecology, Exploitation and

Conservation. Fish and Aquatic

Resources Series 7, Blackwell

Science, 372pp.

Boecklen, W. J., Yarnes, C. T., Cook, B.

A. and James, A. C. (2011). On the

Use of Stable Isotopes in Trophic

Ecology. Annual Review of Ecology,

Evolution, and Systematics 42(1), 411-


DeNiro, M. J. and Epstein, S. (1978).

Influence of diet on the distribution of

carbon isotopes in animals.

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ong>Focusong> Environ (2016)

Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios…

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

42(5), 495-506.

Fry, B. (2006). Stable Isotope Ecology.

Springer, New York

Godfray, H. C. J., Beddington, J. R.,

Crute, I. R., Haddad, L., Lawrence,

D., Muir, J. F., Pretty, J., Robinson,

S., Thomas, S. M., and Toulmin, C.

(2010). Food security: the challenge of

feeding 9 billion people. Science

327(5967), 812-818.

Guest, M. A., Connolly, M. R. and

Loneragan, R. N. (2004). Carbon

movement and assimilation by

invertebrates in estuarine habitats at a

scale of metres. Marine Ecology

Progress Series 278, 27-34.

Khan, M., A., Khan, S., Miyan, K. (2011).

Aquaculture as a food production system:

a review. Biology and Medicine 3 (2),


Kneib, R. T. (1997). The role of tidal

marshes in the ecology of estuarine

nekton. Oceanography and Marine

Biology Annual Review 35, 163-220.

Mazumder, D. and Saintilan, N. (2010).

Mangrove Leaves are Not an

Important Source of Dietary Carbon

and Nitrogen for Crabs in Temperate

Australian Mangroves. Wetlands

30(2), 375-380.

Mazumder, D., Saintilan, N. and

Williams, R. J. (2006). Trophic

relationships between itinerant fish

and crab larvae in a temperate

Australian saltmarsh. Marine and

Freshwater Research 57(2), 193-199.

Mazumder, D., Saintilan, N. and

Williams, R. J. (2009). Zooplankton

inputs and outputs in the saltmarsh at


Towra Point, Australia. Wetlands

Ecology and Management 17(3), 225-


Mazumder, D., Saintilan, N. and

Williams, R. J. (2006). Trophic

relationships between itinerant fish

and crab larvae in a temperate

Australian saltmarsh. Marine and

Freshwater Research 57(2), 193-199.

Mazumder, D., Saintilan, N., Williams, R.

J. and Szymczak, R. (2011). Trophic

importance of a temperate intertidal

wetland to resident and itinerant taxa:

evidence from multiple stable isotope

analyses. Marine and Freshwater

Research 62(1), 11-19.

Mazumder, D., Wen, L., Johansen, M. P.,

Kobayashi, T. and Saintilan, N.

(2016). Inherent variation in carbon

and nitrogen isotopic assimilation in

the freshwater macro-invertebrate

Cherax destructor. Marine and

Freshwater Research 67(12), 1928-


Meynecke, J. O., Lee, S. Y., and Duke, N.

C. (2008). Linking spatial metrics and

fish catch reveals the importance of

coastal wetland connectivity to inshore

fisheries in Queensland, Australia.

Biological Conservation 141(4), 981-


Minagawa, M. and Wada, E. (1984).

Stepwise enrichment of 15N along

food chains: Further evidence and the

relation between δ15N and animal age.

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

48(5), 1135-1140.

Nagelkerken, I., Kirton, L. G., Meynecke,

J. O., Pawlik, J., Penrose, H. M.,

Blaber, S. J. M., Bouillon, S., Green,

P., Haywood, M., Sasekumar, A.

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ong>Focusong> Environ (2016)

Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios…

and Somerfield, P. J. (2008). The

Habitat Function of Mangroves for

Terrestrial and Marine Fauna: A

Review. Aquatic Botany 89, 155-185.

Peterson, B. J. and Fry, B. (1987). Stable

Isotopes in Ecosystem Studies. Annual

Review of Ecology and Systematics 18,


Phillips, D. L. and Gregg, J. W. (2003).

Source partitioning using stable

isotopes: coping with too many

sources. Oecologia 136(2), 261-9.

Platell, M. E. and Freewater, P. (2009).

Importance of saltmarsh to fish species

of a large south-eastern Australian

estuary during a spring tide cycle.

Marine and Freshwater Research,

60(9), 936-941.

Post, D. M. (2002). Using stable isotopes to

estimate trophic position: models,

methods, and assumptions. Ecology 83

(3), 703–718.


Saintilan, N., Wilson, N.C., Rogers, K.,

Rajkaran, A., and Krauss, K.W.

(2014). Mangrove expansion and salt

marsh decline at mangrove poleward

limits. Global change biology 20(1),


SOFIA, (2009). The state of world fisheries

and aquaculture 2008. FAO Fisheries

and Aquaculture Department. Food

and Agriculture Organization of the

United Nations, Rome.

Tacon, A. G. J. and Metian, M. (2013). Fish

Matters: Importance of Aquatic Foods in

Human Nutrition and Global Food

Supply. Reviews in Fisheries Science

21(1), 22-38.

United Nations Department of Economic

and Social Affairs, Population

Division (2015). World Population

Prospects: The 2015 Revision. New

York: United Nations.

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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P95-106

Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria and Crop Productivity

Umaiyal Munusamy

Centre for Research in Biotechnology for Agriculture (CEBAR), Level 3, Research Management

& Innovation Complex, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Climate change drives yield reduction in most of the crops. Industrialized agricultural systems

are becoming unsustainable due to climate change. Research findings in the areas of plant microbe

interactions suggest that the usage of plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) has the possibility

to improve crop productivity in the coming years. Therefore, application of PGPB which

creates a step forward towards sustainable agricultural systems is recommended to replace the

dependence on chemical and synthetic fertilizers. This article presents an overview of PGPB and

their potential applications in enhancing agricultural crop productivity.

Keywords: Agriculture; bacteria; environment; plant growth regulators; sustainability


According to the United Nations and

the U.S. Census Bureau, the current world

population (total number of humans currently

living) is estimated to be at 7.4 billion as

of September 2016 and expected to reach 8

billion people in the spring of 2024 and 10

billion in the year 2056. The FAO (2016)

highlighted that the food supply needs to be

increased by 70 percent to feed this population.

Even though, industrialized farming

has become more intensive through artificial

fertilizers and chemical pesticides, it has resulted

into undesirable environmental impacts

such as destruction of virgin forests,

deterioration of water quality, overuse of

manure, in efficient monoculture strategies

and finally increasing of greenhouse gas

emissions (Abbamondi et al., 2016; Compant

et al., 2005). Furthermore, in this current

climate changes industrialized farming

strategies to enhance crop productivity are

becoming unsustainable. In addition, climate

change through higher temperatures, precipitation

changes, increased weeds, pests and

disease pressure has affected the agriculture

production in most of the countries. For instance,

the article reported by STAR (2016

A, B) and New Sunday Times (2016) (Figure

1) shows that vegetables are wilted and

the vegetable’s qualities are dropped due to

the heat wave and these changes will have

severe impacts on all the components of the

food security (Kang et al., 2009) if the global

mean surface temperature is projected to

rise in a range from 1.8°C to 4.0°C by 2100

(IPCC, 2007).

Therefore, current research objectives

are mainly focusing on a sustainable

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Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria

agricultural production which will be efficient

in terms of natural resources need and

more consumer consciousness (Dawwam et

al., 2013).




In another words it should be sustainable

both environmentally and socially (Carvajal-

Munoz and Carmona-Garcia, 2012). One of

the latest techniques that falls in the above

preference will be through the application of

plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB)

(Lucy et al., 2004). It is mainly found in

soil, rhizosphere region and also associated

inside the plant cells (Gagne-Bourque et al.,

2015). In the soil, PGPB will be living

freely, while in the rhizosphere region it will

colonize the plant interior roots and allows

some bacteria to migrate towards the aerial

parts of the seedlings and promote the

growth of the plants (Figure 2A, B) (Compant

et al., 2005).


Figure 2: A) A schematic diagram showing

Figure 1(A, B & C): Media reports highlighting

challenges in agriculture sector moting bacteria (PGPB); B) types of PGPB.

plant’s association with plant growth pro-

(Star, 2016A, B; New Sunday Times, 2016).

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Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria

The differences between PGPB and

biofertilizers are commonly debateable as

the biofertilizers also can promote plant

growth. However, biofertilizers require special

care for long term storage because they

are live cultures (Youssef and Eissa, 2014)

and it must be used before its expiry date. In

addition, it should not be contaminated with

other bacteria (Carvajal-Munoz and Carmona-Garcia,


Biofertilizers are also unable to show

promising results in the hot climates, unfavourable

soil pH conditions and in pathogenic

bacteria infected soils (Mishra, 2014).

Apart from the higher cost, the leaches of

the biofertilizer inoculants such as organic

matter, phosphates and nitrates are also another

problem that need to be managed (Abbamondi

et al., 2016). The leached nitrates

and phosphates that enter the water systems

will lead to eutrophication in the water reservoirs

and cause death of many aquatic organisms

(Brar et al., 2012). In addition, the

organic material derived from the biofertilizers

will increase the carbon content in the

soil and hence will contribute to the greenhouse

gasses (Saeed et al., 2015). Since food

production needs to be increased without

negative impacts to the environment, PGPB

are the obvious choice to be utilized (Lucy

et al., 2004).



As depicted in figure 2, it is the free living

bacteria that present in the soil (Compant et

al., 2005). Bacteria that are located around

the roots are known as rhizobacteria. While,

bacteria that are able to colonize the internal

tissues of plant organs escape the competition

from rhizosphere microorganisms are

called as endophyte (Figure 2A, B) (Gagne-

Bourque et al., 2016). The reason for the

presence of various kinds of bacteria in the


soil is due to the various type of discharges

such as amino acids, sugars and organic acids

that are released from the plant roots

(Tak et al., 2013) and also due to different

soil conditions (drought, flood, salinity and

metal toxicity) (Inagaki et al., 2015). The

PGPB strains have different degree of capability

to attract to the root exudates (Ma et

al., 2016). However, the non-PGPB or phytopathogens

do not have this capability (Yuan,



Plant growth promoting bacteria belong to

diverse genera such as Acetobacter, Achromobacter,

Anabaena, Arthrobacter,

Azoarcos, Azospirillum, Azotobacter, Bacillus,

Frankia, Hydrogenophaga, Microcoleus,

Phyllobacterium and Pseudomonas.

They are endophytes that are non-pathogenic

to plants (Gagne-Bourque et al., 2016). They

are also classified based on the plant species

(Compant et al., 2005), plant organs and tissues

such as from phyllosphere (Gagne-

Bourque et al., 2016), anthosphere (Berg et

al., 2014) or spermosphere (Sivasakthivelan

and Stella, 2012). The presence of PGPB in

the soils are also depends on the types of soil

such as dry, cold, muddy and also determined

by the types of climate region such as

tropical, dry, mild Mediterranean, continental

and polar climates (Souza et al., 2015;

Nihorimbere et al., 2011).


Facilitating resources

Endophytic bacteria exchange nutritions,

enzymes (lipase, catalase and oxidase), functional

agents (siderophores, biosurfactants)

and signals (Abbamondi et al., 2016) efficiently.

The PGPB are known to promote

root development by increasing the water

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Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria

absorption in plant root cells (Vacheron et

al., 2013). They can also produce phytohormones

such as indole acetic acid (IAA), gibberellic

acid (GA) and cytokinins (Gupta et

al., 2015). Different PGPB produce different

phytohormones (Pontes et al., 2015). In addition,

it is also capable of inducing modifications

in plant gene expression, increasing

drought resistance associated genes like

ERD15 (early response to dehydration) or

DREB (dehydration responsive element protein)

(Gagne-Bourque et al., 2015). Inoculation

of PGPB will increase the uptake of

NH4 + , HPO4 2- /H2PO4 - by the roots, mineralize

organic soil and induce tolerance or resistance

to the biotic stress (Nkebiwe et al.,

2016). Most PGPB can also facilitate the

uptake of environmental nutrients such as

sulphur, magnesium and calcium. It has

shown to solubilise and mineralize organic

soil (Calvo et al., 2014) these will induce

biochemical changes in the plant which will

lead to beneficial effects on the plant health,

growth and also in decreasing plant disease

(Tak et al., 2013).

Phosphate solubilisation

Phosphorus is a major macronutrient needed

by plants; however, it is present in unavailable

form in the soil (Yuan, 2015). In addition,

the rainfall and leaching will continuously

reduce the phosphorus level in the soil

(Brar et al., 2012). The presences of PGPB

will enable the conversion of phosphorus

into more available forms, such as orthophosphates

which plant roots can absorb

easily (Rodriguez et al., 2006).

Nitrogen fixation

According to the Fertilizers Institute of

United States (2016), there is 78% of nitrogen

in the air and 98% presence in the soil.

Therefore, there is no limitation in nitrogen


content for all living things especially for

plant. Fixing atmosphere nitrogen (N2) and

stimulation of nitrate transport system by

PGPB increases the nitrogen availability for

the plants (Mantelin and Touraine, 2004).

Besides plant growth, nitrogen is required

for synthesis of enzyme, proteins, chlorophyll,

DNA and RNA (Saeed et al., 2015).

Sequestration of Iron

Iron mainly affects the variety of bacterial

communities in the soil as they compete

among themselves to absorb the available

iron (Woitke and Schnitzler, 2005). Therefore,

PGPB synthesize low molecular mass

known as siderophore under iron limiting

conditions. This molecule will competitively

bind to ferric ion Fe +3 to form Fesiderophore

complex that facilitate better

iron uptake (Gupta et al., 2014). Various

bacterial strains will synthesize different

types of siderophores that function differently

(Ahmed and Holmstrom, 2014). They also

generally remove any kind of siderophores

with lower affinity and draw irons

from heterologous siderophores that are

coproduced by other microorganisms. All

these will increase the uptake of iron in

plants (Compant et al., 2005).



Modulation of ethylene

Methionine is the initial substrate involve in

the ethylene production. This substrate is

converted into S-adenosyl-L-methionine

(SAM) by SAM synthase. It is then hydrolyzed

to 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic

acid (ACC) and 5- methyl thioadenosine by

ACC synthase (Gamalero and Glick, 2015).

Finally, ACC molecule is metabolized to

ethylene, carbon dioxide and cyanide by

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Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria

ACC oxidase. However, the high formation

of ethylene can be harmful to the plants;

therefore, its level needs to be regulated

(Shagol and Sa, 2012). In that, ethylene

formation is regulated by ACC deaminase in

the PGPB cell by extracting ACC oxidase

and synthase from the plant cell into PGPB

cell (Marasco et al., 2013). This reaction

produces ammonia and α-ketobutyrate that

lowers the plant ethylene levels (Toklikishvili

et al., 2010).

Production of Indole Acetic Acid (IAA)


Plants produce IAA from independent biosynthetic

pathway of tryptophan while

PGPB produce IAA by using tryptophan released

by the plant roots (Tak et al., 2013).

According to Mohite (2013), IAA have various

functions in plants such as plant cell division,

extension and differentiation, increases

the rate of xylem and root development,

initiates lateral and adventitious root

formation, while according to Shahab et al.

(2013), IAA stimulates seed and tuber germination,

controls process of vegetative,

mediates responses to light, gravity and florescence,

affects the photosynthesis level,

pigment formation, biosynthesis of various

metabolites and resistance towards stressful

conditions. Different plant species (Ljung et

al., 2013), different plant organs such as

roots and shoots (Liu et al., 2012) and different

tissues (Petersson et al., 2009) respond

differently towards the effects of IAA.

Furthermore, plants always respond based

on the total concentration of IAA inside the

plant cells as IAA is being produced by

plant through various channel such as

through independent pathway, through formation

of other indolic compounds (both

endogenous and synthetic) which represents

auxin-like activities (Ljung, 2013) and also

through PGPB secretion (El-Azeem et al.,

2007). Therefore, the combined concentration

of IAA will alter the IAA concentration

to either promotion or inhibition of plant

growth (Glick, 2014).

Production of cytokinins and gibberellins

PGPB are capable to produce cytokinins and

gibberellins in the cell-free medium and

plant growth promotion experiment

(Vacheron et al., 2013). Cytokinins are essential

for plant cell division, seed germination,

branching, root growth, accumulation

of chlorophyll, leaf expansion and delay of

senescence (Gamalero and Glick, 2015).

Whereas, gibberellins are involved in cell

division and elongation, plant developmental

processes such as seed germination, stem

elongation, flowering, fruiting and delay of

senescence, promotion of root growth since

they regulate root hair abundance (Colebrook

et al., 2014).



The damage caused by the fungal (Ahmad et

al., 2008), bacterial (Vidaver and Lambrecht,

2004), viral (Gergerich and Dolja,

2006), insects (USDA, 2015) and nematodes

(Youssef and Eissa, 2014) need to be controlled

efficiently. The usage of PGPB as a

biocontrol was initiated due to consumer

demands on pesticides free crops, to reduce

environmental impacts and the increasing

cost of agrochemicals (Agarwal et al.,

2011). The ability of PGPB to produce many

types of antagonistic antibiotics prevents the

proliferation of plant pathogens (Ahmad et

al., 2008). According to Gupta et al. (2015),

amphisin, 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol

(DAPG), oomycin A, phenazine, pyoluteorin,

pyrrolnitrin, tensin, tropolone, cyclic

lipopeptides, cylic oligomycin A, kanosamine,

zwittermicin A, and xanthobaccin are

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Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria

some identified antibiotics produced by

PGPB. These antibiotics are formed through

metabolic pathways in the bacterial cell

through usage of available nutrients, biotic

and environmental stimuli such as minerals,

carbon source, pH, temperature and trace

elements (Compant et al., 2005). However,

some pathogens will develop resistance to

these antibiotics. Therefore, usage of multiple

bacteria that produce multiple antibiotics

which acts synergistically will show better

effects (Glick, 2012). In addition, formation

of allelochemicals by PGPB has the potential

to suppress pathogens activities (Saraf et

al., 2014). Besides that, the capability of

PGPB in producing chitinase, cellulase, β-

1,3 glucanase, protease and lipases will

breakdown the cell walls of pathogenic bacteria

and fungus (Hamid et al., 2013, El-

Katatny, 2010). In addition, the formation of

siderophores will prevent some pathogenic

bacteria from acquiring iron nutrient directly

from the soil. This somehow will affect

pathogenic bacterial proliferation and

growth (Gupta et al., 2014). On the other

hand, application of PGPB will increase the

content of beneficial bacteria in the soil.

Abundant of beneficial bacteria will rapidly

colonize plant roots before pathogenic bacteria

could actually invade into the plant root

system (Kundan et al., 2015; Glick, 2012).

Furthermore, PGPB are also capable to detoxify

pathogen virulence factor by producing

proteins that reversibly bind to the toxins

(Gaiero et al., 2013). Recently, it was reported

that PGPB suppress the virulence

genes by quenching pathogen quarom sensing

capacity by degrading autoinducer signals

(Compant et al., 2005). Therefore,

PGPB can be used as a biocontrol agent to

defeat the pathogens.

Induced systemic resistance in plants


Biopriming plants with PGPB will trigger

the induced systemic resistance (ISR)

through flagellation, siderophore, lipopolysacharides

and volatile organic compounds

formation (Compant et al., 2005). This type

of resistance is mainly demonstrated by rhizobacteria

and endophytes, and they will not

cause any visible symptoms of disease.

However, defence mechanism which is a

type of resistant mechanism triggered by

PGPB will regulate different sets of genes

such as peroxides, phenylalanine, ammonia

lyase, phytoalexins, polyphenol oxidase and

chalcone synthase (Choudhary and Johri,

2009). Through this mechanism, accumulation

of salicylic acid, jasmonate and ethylene

will increase the strength of plant cell wall

and alters host physiology and metabolic

responses leading to an enhanced synthesis

of plant defence against abiotic stress (Compant

et al., 2005). Besides that, since water

is one of the most limiting factors for plant

development in semi arid climates, xerotolerant

microorganisms can be used to increase

growth of plants in such climatic

condition (Petrovic et al., 2000). It is because

microorganisms that can survive under

drought conditions have several mechanisms

such as the production of exopolysacharides,

biofilm formation and osmolytes production

that help to avoid cell water loss and boost

the plant growth (Kavamura et al., 2013). In

addition, PGPB can offer plant protection

against desiccation through the maintenance

of moist environment and by supplying nutrients

and hormones which act as a plant

growth promoter for root development

(Vacheron et al., 2013).

Environmental sustainability

Application of PGPB will naturally enhance

soil fertility (Roychowdhury et al., 2014).

Increase of PGPB concentration in the soil

will enhance the degradation of resources

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Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria

efficiently and will lead to reduction of

leaches into water system (Reed and Glick,

2004). Therefore, usage of PGPB can be

helpful in creating environmental sustainability.

Plant microbe interactions apparently

offer a favourable environment for cometabolism

of soil-bound bacteria with recalcitrant

chemicals (Ambrosini et al.,

2016). The microbial transformation of toxic

compounds into non-toxic material is mediated

by the energy provided by the root exudates

(Agarwal Pavan et al., 2011). In addition,

PGPB are also known to produce biosurfactants

that contributes in the removal of

toxic contaminants in the soil (Bashan et al.,



Soil microorganisms (PGPB) play an important

role in maintaining soil structure,

fertility and the growth of plants. They are

able to influence these effects due to their

close association with the plants. Studies

regarding the root-microbe interactions that

are affected by the genetic and environmental

control along with the spatial and temporal

aspects needs to be studied in detail.

Field application is very important for the

successful implementation of PGPB. The

importance of PGPB is slowly being recognized

by farmers in all regions and they are

slowly shifting towards replacing conventional

agricultural methods with sustainable

agricultural techniques.


The author would like to thank Editors for

helping to improve the article content.


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Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

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World Soil Day: A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Global

Sustainable Development

Subhash Janardhan Bhore

Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, AIMST University, Bedong-Semeling

Road, 08100 Bedong, Kedah, Malaysia

Phone No.: +60-4-429-8176; Email: /


Food that we eat provides the nutrients to nourish our body. The world population is growing

rapidly and providing enough food to meet the increasing demand will be a huge challenge. The

United Nations most recent estimate indicates that the world population will be about 8.5 billion in

2030 and we need to double the agricultural productivity by that time to meet the expected demand.

The whole agricultural productivity and our food security are mainly dependent on the

health of soil. In fact, soil is the basis in providing our nutrients, water, climate, biodiversity and

life. However, soils have been neglected at large. The damage caused by deforestation, extensive

usage of synthetic fertilizers, mining, soil erosion, and rapidly growing urbanization are the major

concerns. Because, all these soil destructing activities are not climate-neutral. Every year, the

international community is observing December 5 as ‘World Soil Day’ to connect people with

soils and raise awareness on soils critical importance in our lives. The purpose of this article is to

highlight the importance of soil conservation, and a need to take up its preservation and restoration

actions. Bearing in mind the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the role of soils health in

enhancing agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner and its importance in global sustainable

development is also highlighted.

Keywords: Agriculture; biotechnology; deforestation; environment; poverty; sustainable development

goals (SDGs); synthetic fertilizers; world soil day


The 68 th general assembly of the United Nations

(UN), held in December 2013 had declared

unanimously that December 5 will be

observed as the World Soil Day (WSD). Every

year, the WSD is observed on December 5 th to

promote the awareness about importance of

soil in our lives and significance of sustainable

soil management.

The themes for World Soil 2014 and 2015

were “Soils, foundation for family farming”

and “Soils, a solid ground for life”, respectively.

This year (2016), the WSD theme was

─ “soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life”. The

purpose was to highlight the importance of

cultivating pulses to enhance the soil fertility.

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A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Sustainability

Pulses [plant species from family: Fabaceae

(this family is also known as Leguminosae)]

are known to fix the nitrogen from atmosphere

and that helps in improvement of soils fertility,

structure and microbial biodiversity (Wahbi el

al., 2016; Luo el al., 2016; UN, 2016). This

article highlights the various issues associated

with soils degradation, loss and conservation

as well as the role of heathy soils in sustainable

development for people and planet in context

with the sustainable development goals (SDGs)

adopted by the UN.


The nutrients derived from our daily diet are

essential for our body’s growth, development,

repairs, and to lead an active, healthy life. In

fact, soil is the basis for the production of all

types of food in agriculture and aquaculture

industry. Therefore, sustainable agricultural

productivity is very important in order to feed

the global population. The UN estimates suggest

that rapid economic growth and increased

agricultural productivity in last 20 years

helped to make huge progress globally in

eradicating extreme hunger; but, extreme

hunger as well as malnutrition remains a huge

challenge (UNDP, 2016) in several countries

in general, and in developing and least developed

countries in particular. The UN estimates

also clearly indicates that about 795 million

people are chronically undernourished because

of poor agricultural productivity mainly due to

a direct consequence of environmental degradation,

drought and loss of biodiversity

(UNDP, 2016; Hunter el al., 2016).



For the international community, one of the

challenge is ─ how we can make sure that all

people on the planet will have enough food in a

sustainable manner? The UN are determined to


end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by

2030 and it is clearly reflected in the seventeen-SDGs

(Table 1) ambitiously adopted by

the international community (SDGs, 2016).

The total agricultural production including

milk, meat and fishes from aquaculture is

completely relied on soil health; hence, conservation

of soil is of prime importance to

accomplish SDG 1 (end poverty in all its forms

everywhere) and SDG 2 (end hunger, achieve

food security and improved nutrition and

promote sustainable agriculture). Directly or

indirectly, the efficacy of sustainable soil

management will complement the efforts of

accomplishing other SDGs (Table 1).



Deforestation, extensive usage of synthetic

fertilizers, mining, soil erosion, and rapidly

growing urbanization are some of the major

causes responsible for soil degradation and or


Through our daily diet, we are taking

carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, fats, vitamins

and trace elements to nourish our body.

All food items that we eat are linked with soils.

For instance, in agriculture, crop plants take

their nutrients from the soil, while fishes or

other aquatic animal we eat are dependent on

phytoplanktons, zooplankton, seaweed, and or

nutrients from specially designed fish food

formulation (Alemzadeh et al., 2014; Gharajehdaghipour

et al., 2016; Bentzon‐Tilia et al.,

2016; Hehre and Meeuwig, 2016). Directly or

indirectly, all the nutrients required for humans

are originated from soil (Figure 1).

Hence, sustainable soil management is of

prime importance for a sustainable global food

supply as well as for global food security.

Destruction of soils by deforestation

About 13 Million hectares of forest are cleared

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A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Sustainability

Table 1: Sustainable development goals

adopted by United Nations (SDGs, 2016).

No Sustainable Development Goals

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

2. End hunger, achieve food security and

improved nutrition and promote sustainable


3. Ensure healthy lives and promote

well-being for all at all ages.

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality

education and promote lifelong learning

opportunities for all.

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all

women and girls.

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management

of water and sanitation for all.

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable

and modern energy for all.

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable

economic growth, full and productive

employment and decent work for


9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote

inclusive and sustainable industrialization

and foster innovation.

10. Reduce inequality within and among


11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive,

safe, resilient and sustainable.

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and

production patterns.

13. Take urgent action to combat climate

change and its impacts.

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans,

seas and marine resources for sustainable


15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable

use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably


manage forests, combat desertification,

and halt and reverse land degradation and

halt biodiversity loss.

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies

for sustainable development, provide access

to justice for all and build effective,

accountable and inclusive institutions at

all levels.

17. Strengthen the means of implementation

and revitalize the global partnership for

sustainable development.

every year for mining, inappropriate farming

techniques, and for the construction of cities,

roads (Chemnitz and Weigelt, 2015). As a

result, we lose fertile soils forever at the expense

of forests, pastureland and its environmental

benefits. By supporting forests, soil

plays very important roles in biodiversity

conservation, carbon storage and climate regulation

(Bonan, 2008; Cohn et al., 2014).

Destruction of soils by mining

Arable land and fertile soils are also destructed

by mining activities for coal, metals and mineral

extraction. Globally, less than 1% of the

land is used for mineral extraction; however,

its impact is huge and in the process we lose

millions of tons’ fertile soils. Mining is also

causing huge amount of adverse effect on the

local, regional and global environment

(Chemnitz and Weigelt, 2015; Maier et al.,


Destruction of soils by urbanization

In general, people from rural areas migrate to

cities for the employment purpose. In 2014,

54% of the world’s population was residing in

urban areas (UN, 2014). The rapidly growing

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A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Sustainability


Figure 1: A schematic diagram showing flow of nutrients depicting the importance of soils.

urbanization in the world is also responsible

for the soils destruction as the several developmental

projects destroy the arable and fertile

soils. For instance, usage of paddy fields for

the housing projects. It is estimated that

growing urbanization is causing the loss of 2

hectares of soil per minute (Huang et al., 2015;

Chemnitz and Weigelt, 2015; Takano, 2007).


freshwater (and marine) eutrophication

(UNEP, 2014). Hence, we should avoid the

usage of synthetic fertilizers to protect the soil

fertility. In addition, the production and marketing

of synthetic fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus

and potassium (NPK)) utilize huge

amount of natural resources (Chemnitz and

Weigelt, 2015).


In agriculture of most of the countries, synthetic

For sustainable soil management and agricul-

fertilizers are used widely. The extensive tural sustainability, we need to promote

usage of inorganic fertilizers is definitely eco-friendly practices to enhance the soil fertility

helping to enhance the agricultural productivity.

and agricultural productivity (Panel 1).

However, for long term, if we completely We also need to find out innovative ways of

depend on synthetic fertilizers then it is impossible

using eco-friendly agricultural practices. In-

to attain agricultural sustainability novative use of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

and to end global hunger (Chemnitz and (AMF) (Robinson et al., 2016; Asmelash et al.,

Weigelt, 2015). Use of synthetic fertilizers is 2016), plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria

not an environment friendly practice as it (PGPR) (Bharti et al., 2016; Kuan et al., 2016),

damages the soil fertility and causes the and endophytes (fungal and bacterial)

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A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Sustainability


Panel 1: Eco-friendly agricultural practices for sustainable soil management and for agricultural

and environmental sustainability. AMF, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; and PGPR, plant

growth-promoting rhizobacteria.

(Molina-Montenegro et al., 2016; Pandey et

al., 2016; Tétard‐Jones and Edwards, 2016) in

agriculture does have tremendous potential to

promote the growth, development and

productivity of agricultural crops. In fact,

eco-friendly agricultural practices will not

only help in boosting sustainable soil management

and food security but also benefit

several other sectors including water supply

system, socio-economic, social health etc.

(Panel 2).


As a whole, if we do sustainable soil management

effectively then we should be able to

keep soil in its healthy condition. As a result,

healthy soil will serve as a gear to promote

agricultural sustainability. In response, sustainable

agriculture will be able to produce

enough food to meet the demand of growing

population. It will also boost our chances of

accomplishing two goals, “ending poverty in

all its forms everywhere” (SDG 1) and “ending

hunger, achieving food security and improved

nutrition and promotion of sustainable agriculture”

(SDG 2). Furthermore, healthy soil

and sustainable agriculture will complement

directly or indirectly the efforts required in

achieving rest of the SDGs (Table 1). Therefore,

we must protect soil and make sure that it

is in healthy condition as sustainable development

of the people and the planet is dependent

on it (Figure 2).

Bearing in mind the important facts about

soil (Table 2) (UN, 2016); we need to understand

that our survival on this planet is not

possible if we do not manage soil and its health

in a sustainable manner. Hence, we need to

promote the awareness about sustainable soil

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A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Sustainability


Panel 2: Benefits of eco-friendly agriculture are beyond conservation of soil and its sustainable


Figure 2: The role of soil in achieving agricultural sustainability and sustainable development for

the people and the planet.

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A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Sustainability

Table 2: Facts about soils depicts the importance

of sustainable soil management for

the sustainable development (UN, 2016).

No Fact

1. About 95% of our food comes from


2. Soils are the foundation for family

farming, where food supply chain begins.

3. Globally, up to 50,000 sq. km of soil,

an area around the size of Costa Rica is

lost every year.

4. 33% of our global soils are degraded.

5. 16% of the Africa continent has been

affected by soil degradation.

6. 11 hectare of soils are sealed under

expanding cities every hour in Europe.

7. Soil is teeming with life – soils host a

quarter of our planets biodiversity.

8. There are more organisms in one tablespoon

of healthy soil than there are

people on earth.

9. Healthy soil is the key to food security

and nutrition for all.

10. It can take up to 1000 years to produce

just 2-3 cm of soil.

11. Our soils are in great danger.

12. Estimates suggest that we only have 60

years of topsoil left.

13. Sustainable soil management could

produce up to 58% more food.

management and its importance among communities

not only to commemorate the ‘World

Soil Day’ but also in everyday life, till the

sustainability goal is achieved. All public and

private institutions, universities, and departments

those are associated with agriculture and

sustainable development also need to promote

awareness about the importance of sustainable

soil management by highlighting the role of

healthy soil for our wellbeing, and local, regional

and global sustainable development.



To sum up, we have to make sure that we are

managing soil and its health in a sustainable

manner for a sustainable agricultural productivity.

Healthy soil is essential to “end hunger,

achieve food security and improved nutrition

and promote sustainable agriculture” (SDG 2)

and to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”

(SDG 1). Sustainable soil management is also

vital for the inclusive sustainability as all the

SDGs are interdependent. Therefore, we need

to promote sustainable soil management efficiently

at local, regional and global level.

We need to bear in mind that without

protecting the soil, we will not be able ― to

feed rapidly growing world population; to

achieve a goal of keeping global warming below

2°C, a pledge made through Paris

Agreement on Climate Change (PACC); and

to halt the loss of biodiversity.

Unquestionably, soil is not only a core

component of the natural system but also a

vital contributor to human wellbeing. Nevertheless,

will power of policy makers, active

participation and timely input from all stakeholders,

and efficacy of soil conservation at

local, regional and global level will determine

the overall success of sustainable soil management

and its contribution in accomplishing

SDGs for the people and the planet.


The author declares no conflict of interest.


Alemzadeh, E., Haddad, R., Ahmadi, A.-R.

(2014). Phytoplanktons and DNA barcoding:

Characterization and molecular

analysis of phytoplanktons on the Per-

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A Brief Overview of Soils Role in Sustainability

sian Gulf. Iranian Journal of Microbiology

6(4), 296–302.

Asmelash, F., Bekele, T., Birhane, E. (2016).

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7, 1095.

Bentzon‐Tilia, M., Sonnenschein, E.C.,

Gram, L. (2016). Monitoring and

managing microbes in aquaculture –

Towards a sustainable industry. Microbial

Biotechnology 9(5), 576–584.

Bharti, N., Pandey, S.S., Barnawal, D., Patel,

V.K., Kalra, A. (2016). Plant

growth promoting rhizobacteria Dietzia

natronolimnaea modulates the expression

of stress responsive genes providing

protection of wheat from salinity

stress. Scientific Reports 6, 34768.

Bonan G. (2008). Forests and Climate

Change: Forcings, Feedbacks, and the

Climate Benefits of Forests. Science


Chemnitz, C. and Weigelt, J. (Eds). (2015).

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earth, land and fields. Heinrich Böll

Foundation, Berlin, Germany, and the Institute

for Advanced Sustainability Studies,

Potsdam, Germany. Available online: (accessed

on 14 November 2016).


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United States of America 111(20), 7236–


Gharajehdaghipour, T., Roth, J.D., Fafard,

P. M., Markham, J.H. (2016). Arctic

foxes as ecosystem engineers: increased

soil nutrients lead to increased plant

productivity on fox dens. Scientific Reports

6, 24020.

Hehre, E.J. and Meeuwig, J.J. (2016). A

Global Analysis of the Relationship

between Farmed Seaweed Production

and Herbivorous Fish Catch. PLoS ONE

11(2), e0148250.

Huang, J., Zhang, W., Mo, J., Wang, S.,

Liu, J., Chen, H. (2015). Urbanization in

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Hunter, D., Özkan, I., Moura de Oliveira

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Nitrogen Fixation and Nitrogen Remobilisation

of Maize under Greenhouse Conditions.

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crobial communities play important

roles in modulating paddy soil fertility.

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Shanker, K., Srivastava, N.K., Shukla,

A.K., Kalra, A. (2016). Fungal endophytes

of Catharanthus roseus enhance

vindoline content by modulating structural

and regulatory genes related to terpenoid

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K., Harrison, R. J., Jeffries, P., Xu,

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ong>Focusong> on Environment

Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

Short Note

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P116-119

Basics for Sustainable Environment: Reduce Wastage,

Reuse, and Recycle

Rajesh Perumbilavil Kaithamanakallam 1, * , Samudhra Sendhil 2 , Aarthi Rajesh 3

1 Microbiology and Medical Education Unit, Faculty of Medicine, AIMST University,

Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia; 2 School of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Social

Sciences, Nottingham University Malaysia, Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih, Selangor,

Malaysia; 3 Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago,

9016 Dunedin, New Zealand

*Corresponding author; Email:

We, in the name of consumerism, are

destroying the only planet that supports

the life. All resources are depleting very

rapidly which makes global

sustainability questionable. Our Earth

which once hosted 5 billion species has

lost about 99% of it to extinction

(Novacek, 2014; Stearns et al., 2000). It

doesn’t stop there. Predictions state that

human activities will result in the

Holocene extinction where 30% of the

existing species today may be extinct by

2050 (Dawson et al., 2016; Hance et al.,


Meanwhile, it is sad to state that

we have managed to eradicate only one

infectious disease so far. By 2050, the

only infectious disease that we have

hopes of eradicating is poliomyelitis.

The world is spiralling downwards.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the

mantra for waste management and

environmental sustenance. The waste

hierarchy scope ranges from the least

favoured opinion of disposal through

energy recovery, recycling, reuse,

minimisation to the most favoured

opinion ‘prevention’.

With this wide scope, we need to

focus on people’s awareness of these

issues at stake. The impact on the

environment due to plastics, toxic

components including radioactive

elements, the growing usage and limited

supply of potable water are just a few

examples. Deforestation leading to

global climate change as well as

emerging diseases, the ecological ticking

time bomb crisis that most of the

earthlings are blissfully unaware off

need to be addressed. Tapping the felt

need of the people is the key element to

health education. For example awareness

campaign against infectious diseases

promoting immunisation is best targeted

against pregnant ladies; likewise the

environmental issues are best made

aware by the introduction of ‘Tragedy of

commons’. The tragedy can include

overfishing in the ocean to misuse of

antibiotics to spam emails and many

more. Each spam email, even if not

opened, adds on significantly to the

ISBN: 978-967-14475-0-5; eISBN: 978-967-14475-1-2 116

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Basics for Sustainable Environment

carbon foot print. World Wildlife Fund

(WWF) Australia has a human footprint

calculator on its website allowing people

to track how much of the earth they are

misusing with their lifestyle. The

website also mentions that we would

need approximately 3.6 earths to sustain

life on this planet given our current

lifestyle. By 2050, humanity needs to

produce twice the amount of food we do

today in order to feed the forecast 9.7

billion people (United Nations, 2015).

For more on tragedy, one just needs to

review the Love canal landfill incident

which signifies the importance of

primordial prevention of waste

generation. It also is a grim lesson on the

precautions necessary to protect and

cover a landfill, especially to prevent

leakage of leachate (Beck, 1979).

This is an era where forests are

cleared and cities built to accommodate

a world congress on environmental

development. This proves that most

conferences do not achieve what they

meant to in the first place. Deforestation

has resulted in cities being built in place

of jungles leaving rodents and other

vectors homeless. This in turn has

caused an alarming rise in the emergence

and re-emergence of infectious diseases.

To counter the vector problem, humans

have used insecticides to fog the

environment. This has resulted in

reducing the number of queen bees

(Goulson et al., 2015). Albert Einstein

once prophetically remarked, “Mankind

will not survive the honeybees’

disappearance for more than five years.”

Queen bees are master pollinators and

their extinction would result not only in

the world going honey-less but also will

affect a huge list of fruits and flowers

pollinated by the bees. Extensive

research has been done recently to

understand the developmental and

Kaithamanakallam et al

evolutionary genetics of Honey bees to

aid in their conservation. Genetic

approaches can be used to modify plants

to become resistant to insects, even

withstand drastic changes in the

environment and increasing crop

produce (DeWoody et al., 2010). This

can reduce the burden of using

insecticides and potentially increase food


Natural resources exist in a fixed

amount and can take millions of years to

get replaced. Once they are depleted,

they are depleted forever. Losses of

forests lead to implications on the water

and the atmosphere. Less trees result in

less rains. To quote the department of

natural resources, South Carolina from

their study on Earth’s Natural Resources

and Human Impacts, “Recycling helps

the environment by slowing down the

rate at which we have to burn garbage or

put it in landfills. With fewer landfills

we can have more space for people to

farm, live, and work. Recycling also

helps by reducing our need to consume

fresh natural resources to make new

products. As a result, we can save these

resources for use by future generations.

Most importantly, recycling saves

energy and reduces pollution. This could

also help in slowing-down global climate

change, another environmental problem

caused by burning fossil fuels like oil

and gas.

Earthlings have ignored long

term and serious implications just to

concentrate on short term gains. (A joke

as usual with a deep message states -

Aliens observe that humans are the most

intelligent species in the universe as they

have utilised the nuclear power;

however, they also note that the humans

have directed nuclear missiles against

themselves). Mitochondrial DNA and

Ancestry genetic studies need to be

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Basics for Sustainable Environment

publicised more to prove and convince

earthlings that they have arisen from a

common ancestor. Each one would

possess 99% of the same genome with

each other. We all have varied genes,

including the genes from the countries

they have sworn to eternal enmity. This

should reduce wars (the biggest waste

that cause havoc for years) and help us

to focus on environmental and human

conservation. It is high time to join

together to combat the environmental

issues together.

Lack of awareness, poor planning

and excessive tapping of resources has

led to the Holocene extinction event

including co-extinction of many species.

It was hypothesised that Dodo’s and the

tambalacoque trees went into extinction

as they needed each other for their

survival (Temple, 1979). When a

predatory species becomes threatened or

extinct, this removes a check and

balance in the food chain on the

population of prey previously consumed

by that predator. Consequentially, the

prey population can explode (Primack,


We are in need of a forum where

we can instil the awareness of the

ecological crisis we are dealing with and

the solutions that lies closely embedded

within the problems themselves.

The environmental awareness

programmes should aim to educate the

younger generation about the importance

of saving the planet for themselves and

for the future generations.

In summary, everyone should

practice reduce, reuse, and recycle

concept in daily life which will help in

part to minimize the damage to

environment for a sustainable future. We

can nurture nature, the next generation’s

future by using AIMST. Where these

alphabets stands for - A: Alternate

Kaithamanakallam et al

sources of energy and by creating

Awareness about the benefits of

reducing waste; I: Informing people to

reuse a resource again without changing

or reprocessing it, for instance, using

glassware instead of paper plates should

be preferred, Internalising these

information and adopting a healthy ecofriendly

life style; M: adopting Modern

and Molecular methods of

environmental conservation; S:

Sustaining the environment by recycling

materials that can be used in another

item; T: Transforming the environmental

and the peoples mind set to ensure a

better tomorrow for the next gen.


Dawson, A. (2016). Extinction: A

Radical History. ISBN 978-


DeWoody, J.A., Bickham, J.W.,

Michler, C.H., Nichols, K.M.,

Rhodes, O.E.Jr., and Keith E.

Woeste, K.E. eds. (2010).

Molecular Approaches in Natural

Resource Conservation and

Management. Cambridge

University Press, 2010.

FAO (2016). The State of World

Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016.

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Goulson, D., Nicholls, E., Botías, C., and

Rotheray, E.L. (2015). Bee

declines driven by combined stress

from parasites, pesticides, and lack

of flowers. Science 347(6229),


Hance, J., (2015). "How humans are

driving the sixth mass extinction".

The Guardian

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ong>Focusong> Environ (2016)

Basics for Sustainable Environment

Novacek, M. J., (2014). "Prehistory's

Brilliant Future". New York

Times. Retrieved 25 December


Stearns, B.P., Stearns, S.C., Stearns,

S.C., (2000). Watching, from the

Edge of Extinction. Yale

University Press. p. 1921. ISBN

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May 2, 2016.

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tambalacoque tree. Science 203,




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Love Canal. Center for Health,

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ong>Focusong> on Environment

Challenges and Perspectives for Sustainable Development

Short Note

ong>Focusong> Environ (2016), P120-122

Natural Farming: Malaysian Farmers Experience

N V Subbarow

National Farming Unit, Consumers Association of Penang, Penang, Malaysia



In February 2005, the Consumers Association

of Penang (CAP) embarked on Sustainable

Agriculture Project - to promote organic

farming in Malaysia. The pioneers in this

field were Namvalvar, Gopalakrishnan, a

vermicomposting expert; a soil biologist and

Director of the Ecosciense Research Foundation

from India Prof. Sultan Ahmed Ismail;

Rajamanikam, a herbal specialist in

treating cattle diseases were invited by CAP

to conduct trainings for farmers and public

on sustainable agriculture.

The organized programmes have

been popular among the Chinese, Indian and

Malay farmers. The Chairman of the Farmers

Association, Mr. Chayeemong took a

keen interest in the programme and encouraged

other Chinese farmers to join him.

These programmes have successfully educated

many farmers about organic farming

using vermiculture.

About 36 Chinese farmers went to

India for Natural Farming Study Tour in

2006 which was organized by CAP. Various

Training and Awareness programmes

have been organized by CAP in Penang,

Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan

and Johor for farmers, public, students,

teachers and trainee teachers.

What is organic farming all about?

Organic agriculture is a way of farming that

avoids the use of synthetic chemicals, pesticides,

and other chemicals. Organic farming

systems rely on crop rotations, crop residues,

animal manures, legumes, green manures,

off-farm organic wastes, mechanical

cultivation, and biological pest control to

maintain soil productivity, to supply nutrients

to plants, and to control weeds and

pests. All kinds of agricultural products are

produced organically, including produce,

grains, meat, dairy, eggs, and fibers including

cotton. Now growing crops is not all

about using the latest, strongest chemical. It

is also about using what is freely available

from Mother Nature and churning it into

something useful. In this short note, I am

sharing Malaysian farmers experience about

organic (also known as natural) farming.


Case 1

Somasundaram is one of the first farmer

who started Organic farming. During Mr.

Gopalakrishnan’s visit to Malaysia he introduced

Somasundaram to organic farming by

guiding him in finding earthworms. The

earthworms have multiplied fast and so has

Somasundaram‘s income. He was full of

praise for this system of farming and his

new found friends-the earthworms. This pioneer

project of producing vermicompost

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from farm waste started with just two beds,

measuring three meters by 1.5 meters. These

beds were sheltered from extreme climates

and were covered with cow dung. The cow

dung is produced by Somasundaram’s twenty

cows and dried over a period of two

weeks. During this time the chicken eat all

the worms and keep the cow dung free of

worms. The drying helps to make the cow

dung completely safe and ready for use.

He also prepares ‘Panchakavya’, a

multi-purpose fertilizer. This fertilizer can

be easily prepared at home using fresh milk,

yogurt, banana, egg, yeast, molasses, yeast,

cow- urine, coconut and manure being an

indispensable component. Its usefulness

surpasses the unpleasant smell.

Somasundaram not only uses Panchakavya

for his jasmine plants and vegetables

such as ladies finger, brinjal, bitter

gourd and chilly. He says the Jasmine

plants have a strong fragrance and flowers

remain fresh longer. He was surprised to

find the growth rate of his chickens multiplied

and his cows producing better quality


Among the other fertilizers, Vermiwash

is another famous one. Coconut milk

serves as plant growth enhancer it is commonly


Case 2


K. Sanmargam started growing Jasmines in

his backyard as a past time for his wife.

What started, as a past time is flourishing

fast. K. Sanmargam was introduced to organic

farming by Gopalakrishnan using

vermiculture. The construction of earthworm

beds is in progress. Sanmargam like

many other farmers has set aside all his

chemicals. He says that his wife had been

suffering from breathing problems and on a

visit to the doctor; she was diagnosed with

asthma and underlying facial burns not visible

to the naked eye. He swore to find a better

way of farming. His search was soon answered

by organic farming. He says he feels

much safer working with the plants now.

Jasmine plants like any other plant has a

peak season and at the end of this season the

yield is very low; however, after switching

to organic farming, Sanmargam says that the

yield remained consistent till end of the

flowering season. Another interesting thing

that Sanmargam brought out is the difference

in the way birds react to the herbal repellant

and the chemical pesticide. Earlier,

he says the birds never ate the insects after

the chemical pesticide repelled them; however,

thanks to the miracle herbal repellant

the birds gladly eat the insects.

Currently, Sanmargam is renting one

acre of land to breed earthworm, planting

vegetables, rearing goats and chickens. He

has 4 earthworm breeding beds whereby he

produces vermicast.

Case 3

Kanniappan from Kulai, Johor has been ventured

into organic lime planting after attending

CAP’s organic farming training. He used

to harvest ping-pong ball sized lemons on

his one-acre orchard, is now reaping fruits

that are bigger than hockey balls. It happened

after he replaced chemical fertilizers

with organic fertilizers and pest repellents.

He has set up a vermiculture unit that

produces 80 kg of vermicast per month

which he uses as fertilizers. He earns at least

RM 500 a month from lime, and RM 250

from vermiculture.

Case 4

Md Saad Bin Haji Ali is a paddy farmer

from Alor Setar who experimented using

panchakavya and neem oil on his farm last

year. To his surprise, he realized a 35% increase

in production after using panchakav.

This farmer stated that he was unable to take

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the smell of pesticides. This farmer is feeding

his dog with panchakavya and finds it

healthy and fat.

On the whole, about 200 farmers

have already adopted non-chemical alternatives

to farming and 500 paddy farmers are

experimenting effectiveness of vermicompost

and panchakavya in their fields. The

number of farmers moving towards natural

farming is expected to increase because of

the benefits and sustainability.


Besides Somasundaram, Sanmargam,

Kanniappan,, Md Saad and their

friends, farmers from Hulu Yam are also

shifting towards organic farming. Currently,

they are trying composting in a bigger scale

for their vegetable farms.


Author is grateful to the farmers (mentioned)

for sharing their experience.

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Natural Resources and Conservation

Fadzil bin Abd Kadir

Sungai Petani Municipal Council, Kompleks MPSPK, Jalan Patani, 08000 Sugai Petani, Kedah,




Natural resources are resources that exist without the actions of humankind. This includes all

valued characteristics such as magnetic, gravitational, and electrical properties and forces. On

earth, we include sunlight, atmosphere, water, land, air (includes all minerals) along with all

vegetation and animal life that naturally subsists upon or within the heretofore identified

characteristics and substances. A natural resource may exist as a separate entity such as fresh

water, and air, as well as a living organism such as a fish, or it may exist in an alternate form

which must be processed to obtain the resource such as metal ores, petroleum, and most forms of

energy. Some natural resources such as sunlight and air can be found everywhere, and are known

as ubiquitous resources. However, most resources only occur in small sporadic areas, and are

referred to as localized resources. During my presentation, I will talk about ‘renewable and

nonrenewable resources’, ‘conserving natural resources’, ‘reducing, reusing and recycling of

waste’, ‘soil pollution’, ‘water pollution’, ‘air pollution’ and other aspects of environment to

highlight the importance of natural resources conservation.

Keywords: Air; conservation; nature; pollution; resources; water

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Biodegradable Plastics for a Sustainable Environment

Sudesh K.

School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800, Penang, Malaysia

Phone No.: (+6) 04-6534367; Email:


Bioplastics are mostly derived from renewable plant sources such as sugars and plant oils. They

have a high potential in substituting petrochemical plastics as a renewable and sustainable

material. Most types of bioplastics are also biodegradable, which makes them popular in

developed countries. Switching to the use of biodegradable plastics not only reduces our

dependence on fossil fuels but at the same time helps to fight global warming. For the past three

decades, biodegradable plastics, namely polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) has been the subject of

intense investigation due to its thermoplastic properties as well as being biodegradable and

biocompatible. PHA is also being researched in Malaysia because palm oil can be used as an

efficient feedstock to produce PHA via microbial fermentation. It is accumulated as water

insoluble storage polyester in the cell cytoplasm of bacteria. However, successful

commercialization of this biodegradable plastic is currently hindered by its high cost compared

to existing petroleum-based plastics in the market. The main reason for costly production of

PHA is its recovery and purification process from bacterial cells. A novel biological extraction

method has recently been developed by feeding freeze-dried cells containing PHA to animal

models. Since PHA granules are not digested by the digestive enzymes, the granules are excreted

in the form of fecal matter. The resulting whitish fecal matter consisted of more than 90 wt% of

PHA. The biologically recovered PHA has been successfully used in the development of

controlled release fertilizers.

Keywords: Biodegradable; bioplastics; fermentation; polyhydroxyalkanoate

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Environmental Forensics: An Overview of Selected Cases

Hj. Mohamed Zaini bin Abdul Rahman

ACM, Director, Department of Chemistry Malaysia, Penang Branch, Malaysia



Environmental forensics is a complex discipline where forensic investigation techniques are

applied to determine the origin and source of contamination. Successful investigations need to

apply knowledge on chemical fate and sampling protocols with sound statistical understanding,

apart from being trained in the fields of analytical and environmental chemistry. To promote the

awareness, an overview of environmental forensics with few selected cases received by the

Department of Chemistry Malaysia, Penang Branch will be presented.

Keywords: Contamination; detection; environment; forensics; pollution

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Environmental Pollution and Its Biological Impacts

Palanisamy Arulselvan*, Katyakyini Muniandy, Sivapragasam Gothai

Laboratory of Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra

Malaysia, 43400, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

*Corresponding author; Email:


The environment plays an important role in human and animal health along with its well-being.

Various key environmental factors such as physical, chemical and microbial can have

implications for human and animal health. We have good constant cross interactions with the

environment; therefore, health is considerably determined by the environmental quality.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), definition of health emphasizes on the

physical, mental and social well-being, hence, human health is considered as a complete

perception reaching beyond, in the absence of diseases. Apart from, human well-being and

quality of life are matter to a notable number of environmental factors from indoor and outdoor.

In the last three decades, there has been accumulative global concern over the health impacts

attributed from numerous environmental pollutions, especially the global burden of chronic

disease. The WHO predicted that more than a quarter of diseases faced by mankind nowadays

occur due to continued exposure to harmful environmental pollutants. These environmental

factors associated diseases are not intermittently diagnosed, however, we identified in the later or

chronic stages. Overall environmental pollution has an imperative impact on living organisms,

including health and physiology of human and animals. The impact on our health not only

comprises the consequences of air, ground and water pollution, but also other factors such as

genetic susceptibility, food contamination, radiation, lifestyle and life quality. Adding to it,

notable pollutants such as pesticides, heavy metals, fluorine and other agro-chemicals are the

primary cause of environmental toxicity, which affects humans, animals, plants and wildlife. The

chronic and minimal contact of pollutants is often linked to chemical residues in animal system.

As for subclinical effects, these include mainly oxidative stress, immunotoxicity,

carcinogenicity, and endocrine disruption.

Keywords: Carcinogenicity; environmental pollution; immunotoxicity

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Impact of Environmental Alteration and Human Infectious


S. Suresh Kumar

Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400,

Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia



Climate changes by human activities influenced the distribution, reproduction, and survival of

disease between pathogens and host. Several environment-associated variables also influence the

means of pathogen transmission and the changeover of non-pathogenic to infectious diseases,

including air-, water-, and food- or vector-borne diseases. This may present new health threat to

human beings, and further multiply existing health problems. One of the key factor influencing

the likelihood and outcome of disease emergence is the pathogen invasiveness, which may result

from the combination of pathogen traits including opportunism. Particularly, high mutation rate

in viruses and bacteria capable of acquiring genetic material and pathogens infecting multiple

hosts are more likely to turn into an emerging disease agent. Some species such as

Legionella spp. and non-tuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) are among the microbes that arise to

be pathogenic due to environmental changes. Recently, numbers of peoples infected with

nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) have increased worldwide. Disturbances to microbial

ecosystems caused by the changes in environment system might lead to NTM diseases.

Environmental alteration cause disturbance on the ecosystems that leads to occurrence of

infectious diseases and finally give impact on human society. Thus, clarifying the relationship

between environmental alterations and changes in microbial ecosystems is important to

contribute to the restoration of the health of the ecosystem and also to prevent further

outbreaks of infectious diseases. It is imperative to recognize research development and gaps

on how human society may respond to, acclimatize to, and prepare for the related changes.

Scientific advances, early warning systems, public health awareness campaign are needed

along with research association between climate change and shifts in infectious diseases.

Keywords: Infectious diseases; nontuberculous Mycobacteria; public health awareness

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Recycling of Household Wastes (Resources) for Cleaner


Don Theseira

Green Crusaders, Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia



Disposal of the household waste is a challenge in most of the counties. For public awareness

purpose, I do demonstration on how we can recycle our household wastes for cleaner

environment and income generation. I will be doing a demo on reducing, recycling and reusing

wastes to promote the environmental cleanliness.

Keywords: Environment; household waste; recycle; reuse

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Speakers who delivered their talk in

‘National Seminar on Sustainable Environment and Health 2016’


Appendix 1: A Brief Biography of Speakers

Biography of Prof. Sultan Ahmed Ismail

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Ismail, M.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D., D.Sc., (9.10.1951)

is Managing Director of the Ecoscience Research Foundation, a notfor

profit organization, in Chennai. He was the Head of Zoology and

later the Department of Biotechnology, The New College, Chennai.

Has done extensive work (both research and applied) on ecology

and environment, earthworms and organic inputs since 1978. He has

been associated with several farmers and self-help groups promoting

the concepts of ecology, sustainability, organic concepts, waste

management, waste water treatment, etc. He was awarded the

CASTME award for 1994-95 in the UK, the Arignar Anna Award

by the Department of Environment of the Government of Tamil

Nadu for 2005, and the award of Excellence presented by His

Excellency Governor of Jharkhand in Dec 2010. Classified as one

among the “TOP 10” people of Tamil Nadu for 2013 by Anantha

Vikathan. He has travelled widely in India and abroad, with rich

expertise in environmental issues. His book “The Earthworm Book” is popular among both

academics and others interested in earthworms. He also authored “simple tasks great concepts”

which is a boon to science teachers and students. It consists of 100 life science experiments

which any child can perform without a laboratory. His earthworm book has been translated in

Tamil as well as in Chinese. He has published more than 75 papers in National and International

Journals, guided 32 M.Phil students and 17 Ph.D, students. More info about his work can be had

from or just google his name.

Biography of Dr. Fadzil Bin Abdul Kadir

Dr. Fadzil Bin Abdul Kadir, AMK., BCK will enlighten us with

his talk on ‘Natural Resources and Conservation’. He holds a

doctorate in local government studies. He started his career in the

Kedah state government service as a Kedah civil service officer

(KCS) and has worked as a district land administrator, director of

water services board and state chief auditor. Presently, Dr. Fadzil

is the secretary of Sungai Petani municipal council.

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Speakers who delivered their talk in

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Biography of Prof. Dr. Sudesh Kumar

Prof. Dr. Sudesh Kumar’s main research interest is in the design and

synthesis of biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) using

microbial systems. He started research in this area in 1992 and

obtained his Masters in Biotechnology from University Malaya.

Then, he continued his research for his PhD, which was sponsored