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Review Article
 

Agricultural Waste Fibers Towards Sustainability and Advanced Utilization: A Review



Rudi Dungani, Myrtha Karina, Subyakto , A. Sulaeman, Dede Hermawan and A. Hadiyane
 
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ABSTRACT

The agricultural waste fibers are of notable economic and cultural significance all over the world are used for building materials, as a decorative product and as a versatile raw product. Agricultural waste fibers also have significant potential in composite due to its high strength, environmentally friendly nature, low cost, availability and sustainability. The agricultural waste is one of the most important problems that must be resolved for the conservation of global environment. The potential properties of agricultural waste fibers have sparked a lot of research to use these fibers as a material to replace man-made fibers for safe and environmentally friendly product. Agricultural waste is seen as one potential source of renewable energy. Their availability is obtained from oil palm plantations and some other agricultural industry such as rice husk, rice straw, sugarcane, pineapple, banana and coconut. Agricultural waste produces large amounts of biomass that are classified as natural fibers which until now only 10% are used as alternative raw materials for several industry, such as biocomposites, automotive component, biomedical and others.

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Rudi Dungani, Myrtha Karina, Subyakto , A. Sulaeman, Dede Hermawan and A. Hadiyane, 2016. Agricultural Waste Fibers Towards Sustainability and Advanced Utilization: A Review. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, 15: 42-55.

DOI: 10.3923/ajps.2016.42.55

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ajps.2016.42.55
 
Received: December 03, 2015; Accepted: February 09, 2016; Published: March 15, 2016



INTRODUCTION

Plenty of wastes is produced due to the increase activity in the modern agricultural sector, represents a tremendous threat to the environment. Meanwhile, declining supply of raw material causing concern and in this context the natural fiber can be seen as a good alternative material for the local timber industry to produce value added product, such as biocomposites. Utilization of natural fiber, especially agricultural waste fiber needs further development as a long term strategy to develop the tremendous wealth of natural plant fiber that are currently under utilised. Agriculture waste can be obtained from plant such as oil palm, bagasse, corn stalks, coir, bamboo, pineapple, banana as well as rice husk which extracted on their part of plant (stem, leaf, seed, fruit, stalk and grass/reed) (Jawaid and Abdul Khalil, 2011).

The main fiber wastes produced from the activity of agriculture is called as Cellulose Fibers (CF) and is of potential as reinforcing materials due to abundantly available, low weight, renewable, degradable, cheaper and low abrasive property. These biomass waste possess several interesting specific properties (Joshi et al., 2004; Kalia et al., 2009, 2011a; Jawaid and Abdul Khalil, 2011). Agricultural waste is the most abundant form of natural fiber (Doree, 1947) and applied in many spheres of modern industry. However, cellulose fiber is found in combination with other materials such as lignin, hemicelluloses and pectin called as composites (Pickering, 2008). These materials varies with the different types of fibers, growing and harvesting conditions of plant (Saheb and Jog, 1999; Li et al., 2007). Therefore, the isolation of cellulose fiber from agriculture waste needs intensive treatment. There are various methods for preparing fibers from cellulose fibers such as chemical treatment (Fahma et al., 2010; Nazir et al., 2013; Siddiqui et al., 2011), mechanical treatment (Abdul Khalil et al., 2014) and chemo-mechanical treatment (Jonoobi et al., 2011; Fatah et al., 2014). They reported that the acid to fiber ratio and treatment time has main effects on isolation and properties of the cellulosic fiber.

Cellulose Fibers from palm pressed fibres have been used as fuel (Arami-Niya et al., 2010). The corn husk has also been used for biodegradable film (Norashikin and Ibrahim, 2009), heat insulator from coconut fibers (Yuhazri et al., 2011), rice husk ash and coconut fibers in concrete (Domke, 2012). Natural Fibers from banana's tree as fillers into polymers composites (Albinante et al., 2014). Rice straw and bagasse fiber used as writing and printing papers (Karim et al., 2010). In addition, oil palm fronds, bamboo fibers, coconut fibers, rice-husks and sugar cane-dregs to make cement boards (Hermawan et al., 2001, 2002). In the past few years, several of studies have reported natural fibers as a reinforcing agent in biocomposite thermoplastic and thermoset matrices. Coir, banana and sisal of agricultural wastes can be used as reinforced polymer composites for commercial use (Sapuan et al., 2003; Yang et al., 2006; Sakthivel and Ramesh, 2013; Abdul Khalil et al., 2013; Namvar et al., 2014). The aim of this review is to describe the selected cellulose fiber from different agriculture waste on various of properties and its applicability towards sustainable and advanced utilization. Besides, isolation treatment of celullosic fiber technique will be compared and application of agricultural waste fibers is briefly be discussed.

OVERVIEW OF WASTE AS GREEN POTENTIAL FROM BIOMASS

Dealing with the growing demand for the renewable resources, agricultural and plantation wastes are considered as the promising and the suitable material. Biomass material is one of the important sources of alternative material for the production of biocomposite products (Abdul Khalil et al., 2010b; Abba et al., 2013; Namvar et al., 2014; Ogah et al., 2014). An increasing global awareness about environmental issues is acting as the driving force behind the utilisation of biomass material as valuable products.

Table 1 summarizes the general promising agricultural product resources and its country origin.

Table 1: Agricultural products as a potential natural fiber resources
Image for - Agricultural Waste Fibers Towards Sustainability and Advanced Utilization: A Review
Source: FAO (2014), na: Not available

Assuming that 40% of the production is available as waste and at least 10% of the waste by weight can be obtained as fiber, millions of metric tons of fibers are available every year and the amount will increases annually. These wastes could be the potential resources for reinforcing materials in bio-composite applications. The utilization of such resources will not only provide the sustainable and less expensive material but at the same time will contribute the waste d isposal management as well as overcoming the environmental problems. However, various factors affect the fiber quality, such plant growth, harvesting stage and fiber extraction process (Dittenber and GangaRao, 2012). Therefore, good understanding of the fundamental properties of agricultural waste fiber is of indispensable.

The development of agricultural industry waste biomass through intensified use of non-conventional raw materials such as oil palm, coconut, pineapple and bagasse were technically and economically feasible. They can play an important supplementary role, especially in the form of fibers (Dungani et al., 2014). The agricultural waste material was identified as suitable for the production of paper, composites and engineered material. There are several non-wood fiber sources other than those of agricultural residue origin. Tropical region is endowed with rich biomass fibre resources, in respect of diversity as well as abundance. Malaysia and Indonesia are the world largest producer of agricultural industry waste especially oil palm (Abdul Khalil et al., 2010a).

FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES OF VARIOUS AGRICULTURAL WASTE FIBERS

To evaluate various agricultural waste properties many studies have been on its isolation and characterization (Kalia et al., 2011a; Abdul Khalil et al., 2008; Thomas et al., 2011; Hemmasi et al., 2011; Venkateshwaran et al., 2012; Driemeier et al., 2012; Nguong et al., 2013). Physical, mechanical and chemical properties of various agricultural waste were examined to assess their suitability for various application. The fundamental properties will not only help in open up a new avenue for these fibers but also emphasize the importance of natural fibers from agricultural waste as future material.

Structure and chemical composition: From inner to outer part, the structure of a natural fibre cell consist of primary and secondary cell wall, lumen and middle lamella (Kalia et al., 2011b). The cell wall are embedded in a hemicellulose-lignin matrix (Alberts et al., 2002; Thomas et al., 2011). The basic three structure of natural fiber of the plant raw materials are presented in Fig. 1.

Hemicellulose found in the natural fibers is believed to be a compatibilizer between cellulose and lignin (Thomas et al., 2011). The cell wall in a fiber is not a homogenous membrane (Akil et al., 2011). Each fiber has a complex, layered structure consisting of a thin primary wall which is the first layer deposited during cell growth encircling a secondary wall. The secondary wall is made up of three layers and the thick middle layer determines the mechanical properties of the fiber.

Image for - Agricultural Waste Fibers Towards Sustainability and Advanced Utilization: A Review
Fig. 1: Sceme of the basic three structure of natural fiber of the plant raw materials

The middle layer consists of a series of helically wound cellular microfibrils formed from long chain cellulose molecules (Rowell et al., 2000).

The agricultural waste fibers have high variability in properties and depend on fiber structure, fiber cell dimensions, microfibril angle and chemical composition (Rowell et al., 2000; Osorio et al., 2010). The fiber length and width is very important in natural fibers based fiber composites as it gives an indication of possible strength properties (Rowell et al., 2000). The fiber characteristics of agricultural waste indicate a wide range of fiber length, width and thickness. The dimensions of some common agricultural waste fibers are shown in Table 2.

Plant fiber is a complex natural composite consisting of various different chemical substance and mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin with minor amount of pectin (Azwa et al., 2013). Due to its main chemical composition, plant fibers are also called as cellulosic or lignocellulosic fibers (Siqueira et al., 2009). Those constituents are scattered through out the cell wall of which consists of primary and secondary wall. The portion of these chemicals in cell wall layer is affected by the fiber origin, climate condition during cultivation, the extraction method (Rowell et al., 2000; Batra, 1985; Bledzki and Gassan, 1999) and influences the fiber properties chemically and physically. Table 3 shows the chemical composition of several agro waste fibers.

Physical and mechanical properties: Physical and mechanical properties of fiber are highly depends on the growing condition, extraction methods, chemical composition and its ratio (Cristaldi et al., 2010; Huang et al., 2012). Table 4 summarizes the physical and mechanical properties of several agro waste fibers.

Thickness of middle layer of the secondary cell walls determines the mechanical properties of fiber as well (John and Thomas, 2008; Azwa et al., 2013). Excellent mechanical properties such as tensile strength and Young’s modulus was reported due to the better orientation of crystalline cellulose which is caused by the high water absorb capability (Thygesen et al., 2007). High mechanical property is also shown by the fiber with higher degree of polymerization of cellulose and longer of cell length (Methacanon et al., 2010; John and Thomas, 2008). Fiber with higher cellulose content is reported possess better tensile strength and Young’s modulus (Reddy and Yang, 2005, 2006). Mechanical property of fiber was also due to the microfibrillar angles.

Table 2: Dimension of selected agricultural waste fibers
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Table 3: Chemical composition of selected agricultural waste fibers
Image for - Agricultural Waste Fibers Towards Sustainability and Advanced Utilization: A Review

Table 4: Physical and mechanical properties of selected agricultural waste fibers
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Image for - Agricultural Waste Fibers Towards Sustainability and Advanced Utilization: A Review
Fig. 2: Schematic principle of isolation process isolate from cellulosic plant fiber to cellulose fiber

High strength and stiff fiber was provided by the smaller angles whereas larger angles responsible for higher ductility (John and Thomas, 2008; Methacanon et al., 2010). Ductility of fiber is shown if microfibrils possess a spiral orientation to the fibre axis, whereas if microfibrils are oriented parallel to the fibre axis, the fibres is rigid and inflexible (Satyanarayana et al., 2009; Monteiro et al., 2011).

EXPLORATION TECHNIQUE FOR CELLULOSE PLANT FIBERS EXTRACTION

Many factors play important roles in the success of extraction cellulose, such as chemical composition, which vary from plant to plant (Siqueira et al., 2009) and methods to extract cellulose (Chen et al., 2012; Abdul Khalil et al., 2014; Fatah et al., 2014). The principle of all methods to extract cellulose is to remove the non-cellulosic components present in the fibers such as lignin, hemicellulose and pectin as well as for the manufacture of fibers to produce nanofibers.

Cellulose fibres can be extracted from a wide variety of cellulosic sources, such as kenaf, banana, oil palm, jute, kapok, sisal, pineapple, abaca, etc. Selecting the cellulosic source depends on the availability of the fibre in a country, the chemical components for its application and economic considerations (Kalia et al., 2011c). There are several methods have been used to isolate natural fibers from cellulosic materials. Chakraborty et al. (2005), Abe et al. (2009) and Nakagaito and Yano (2004) have isolated fibers using mechanical treatments, whereas chemical treatments have been used to isolate fibers by Araki et al. (2001) and Liu et al. (2010). Jonoobi et al. (2011) and Fatah et al. (2014) have isolated of nanofibrillated cellulosic fiber from oil palm empty fruit bunch by chemo-mechanical technique. The schematic principle of isolation process from cellulosic plant fiber to cellulose fiber shown in Fig. 2.

The retting process is simplest extraction methods. It is a chemical process for removing non-cellulosic material attached to fibres to release individual fibres, which are normally applied to jute, flax and kenaf. The fiber obtained by this method is delicate,thin and has color adequate to the quality of use draw material (Akin et al., 2007). According to the literature, isolating cellulose fibers with retting methods can be conducted in five process, namely, dew (Lu et al., 1999), water (Banik et al., 2003), enzymatic (Akin et al., 2007), mechanical (Goodman et al., 2002) and chemical retting (Paridah and Khalina, 2009). Because of this characteristic, fibers that are separated from bast plants are often reffered to as crude fiber, which are usually much coarser and much longer, futher process and fibers can be isolated from cellulosic fibres using various mechanical or chemo mechanical processes, including high-pressure homogenization, microfluidization, microgrinding, high-intensity ultrasonication, electrospinning and steam explosion.

Chemical treatment: Chemical treatment has been extensively used for removal non-celulosic compound in natural fiber and destroying its crystalline structure. Many researchers studied the extraction of cellulose from agricultural waste fiber by chemical treatment using chlorite bleaching, alkali treatment and acid hydrolysis, etc. Johar et al. (2012) have been using sulfuric acid hydrolysis (H2SO4) on cellulose fibers from rice husk and from jute cellulose (Jahan et al., 2011). In addition to these isolation studies, the characterization of cellulose fibers derived from cellulosic plant fiber has been reported.

The chemical treatment for preparing cellulosic fibers from cellulosic plant fibers including using sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) have been successfully carried out. Qua et al. (2011) and Brinchi et al. (2013) have been studied to isolate nanofibers from cellulosic plant. They reported that chemical treatment with acid hydrolysis have a influence on the surface charge and dimensions of the cellulose nanofibers. Meanwhile, Fahma et al. (2010) have been extracted cellulose nanofibers from oil palm empty-fruit-bunch using sulphuric acid hydrolysis. Other studies by Leitner et al. (2007) showed isolation of cellulose from a by-product of sugar beet chips production by wet chemistry.

Another treatment has been used by several researcher is multistage chemical treatment. Kopania et al. (2012) reported that the use of oxygen and peroxide compounds, allowed the safe removal of lignin and other non-cellulosic components without degradation of the cellulose fibres obtained.

Mechanical treatment: There are several mechanical processes have been used to isolate fibers cellulosic materials, such as homogenization, ultrasonication and electrospinning. Apart from the isolation process of fiber cellulose by homogenization, refining (Stelte and Sanadi, 2009; Karande et al., 2011), cryocrushing (Wang and Sain, 2007; Alemdar and Sain, 2008), grinding (Wang et al., 2012; Hassan et al., 2012) and microfluidization (Ferrer et al., 2012) can also be considered as other mechanical approaches.

The ultrasonication with high intensity can be considered as a mechanical method for isolation cellulose fibers with hydrodynamic forces (Cheng et al., 2009). Several attempts have been done to isolate cellulose fiber by ultrasonication from various cellulose sources such as flax, wood, wheat straw and bamboo (Chen et al., 2011). The ultrasonic has been used as combination with other methods to more successfully in extraction of cellulose fiber. For example, ultrasonication and acid hydrolysis with H2SO4 (Li et al., 2011) or ultrasonic and homogenization (Cheng et al., 2010). These combination methods increased fibrillation of cellulose and gave more efficient cellulose fiber production than ultrasonic solely (Mishra et al., 2012).

Electrospinning is a versatile and simple process for formation of fibers from various sources such as cellulosic fibers by electrical force. In this process, nanofibers are formed from polymer solution between two electrodes with opposite polarity, one electrode connected to syringe and the other one to collector (Huang et al., 2003). Furthermore Vallejos et al. (2012) reported that processing of cellulose via electrospinning is a big challenge because of its limited solubility in common solvents as well as its tendency to agglomerate.

One of the other mechanical processes is steam explosion. The principle of this process described by Giri and Adhikari (2013), steam penetrates to cellulose fiber due to the high pressure of the equipment and when the pressure suddenly releases, creates shear force, hydrolyze the glycosidic and hydrogen bonds and leads to formation of fibers.

Chemo-mechanical treatment: In recent years, the chemo-mechanical technique with combination method of chemical and mechanical treatment have been used to isolate cellulose fibers from various lignocellulosic plant. This technique can produce fibers without degrading the cellulose (Kalia et al., 2011b). Several researchers (Fahma et al., 2010; Jonoobi et al., 2011; Qua et al., 2011; Brinchi et al., 2013) reported that the chemical treatment was conducted as a pre-treatment of lignocellulosic pulp fibers using chemical compound and bleaching processes. In the process of mechanical treatment, chemically-treated lignocellulosic pulp fibers was refined, cryo-crushed and homogenized using a high pressure homogenization (HPH).

Utilization of sulphuric acid hydrolysis and HPH process is bearing considerable interest regarding of the production of fibrillated cellulose of natural fibers (Pan et al., 2013; Siqueira et al., 2009; Qing et al., 2012). Studies by Fatah et al. (2014) and Jonoobi et al. (2011) revealed that combination of sulphuric acid hydrolysis and HPH could be an effective to isolate cellulose nanofibers from oil palm empty fruits bunch. Previous studies by Jonoobi et al. (2009) also showed that chemo-mechanical processes could be utilized as an effective process for nanocellulose production from kenaf bast. In the study by Alemdar and Sain (2008) cellulose nanofibers from agricultural waste were prepared by chemo-mechanical technique.

UTILIZATION OF AGRICULTURAL WASTE FIBERS

For years, agro-based biocomposite material has been used for many applications. Some common applications include using natural fiber composites for automotive and building components. Another special application is the use of nanocellulose fibers biocomposites to create loose-fill packing and biomedical application (Fig. 3).

Building component: Natural fiber composites for building applications was reviewed by Singh and Gupta (2005). Some building products such as panels, door shutters, door frames, roofing sheets and dough molding compounds made from jute, sisal, coir were elaborated. Many countries have been used agricultural waste fibers alone or in combination with other materials for building components to complement or replace wood. For example, study of agriculture waste fiber in India have been produced a good insulation boards with bagasse fibers (Acharya et al., 2011). In China bagasse has been used to make particleboard (Verma et al., 2012). Hardboards made from Thai hardwoods and coconut fiber have been investigated in Thailand. Their properties met or exceeded the Japanese standards (Gonzalez-Garcia et al., 2011).

In the Philippines, the utilization of agricultural waste fibers in the production of composite panels has focused on coconut coir (or husks) and banana stalks for particleboards (Yevich and Logan, 2003). Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea have many types of natural fibers from agricultural waste that have been applied for composite but many research are more directed to develop a green composite from oil palm fibers (Bakar et al., 1999; Abdul Khalil et al., 2008, 2010a, 2012; Yuliansyah et al., 2009; Steve and Sumanasiri, 2011).

Furniture application: With increasing developments of newer bio-composites into the furniture industry, the use of agricultural waste fibers in furniture making could support the concept of reducing waste. The natural fibers can be used for the manufacture of biocomposite advanced (Abdul Khalil et al., 2012). The EFB fibers can be used for the manufacture of medium density fibreboard (MDF) (Izani et al., 2012). Additionally, the flax fibers can be used in a wide range of applications is reported by Van de velde and Kiekens (2001) for furniture application.

Image for - Agricultural Waste Fibers Towards Sustainability and Advanced Utilization: A Review
Fig. 3(a-d):
Various applications of agro-based biocomposite, (a) Automotive component, (b) Food packaging, (c) Building component and (d) Medical applications, sources: Dungani et al. (2014) and Lina et al. (2011) with permission

The considerable investigations have been made in plant bast fibers, such as kenaf, banana, jute and flax as a reinforcement has grown substantially in the past decade and they are other products, such as extruded plastic fencing, decking and furniture padding (Thiruchitrambalam et al., 2009).

Automotive applications: Agricultural waste fibers biocomposite is the prime candidate for automotive industries. Usage of natural fibers may reduce the car weight up to 30% so it will reduce fuel consumption. Biocomposites of polymer reinforced with naturals fibers can be used for interior and exterior parts of automotive components. Among the automotive parts that made from biocomposites are seat back, side and door panel, boot lining, hat rack, spare tire lining, dashboard, business table, piller cover panel, under body protection trim, instrumental panel and headliner panel (Suddell and Evans, 2005; Bledzki et al., 2006; Holbery and Houston, 2006). Ikpambese et al. (2016) studied utilization of palm kernel fibers for asbestos-free automotive brake pads.

Some automotive industries that have been used natural fibers for their parts are Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford, Mitsubishi, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo (Suddell and Evans, 2005; Bledzki et al., 2006). Mitsubishi especially developed prototype of door trim from bamboo composite (Abdul Khalil, 2012).

Medical applications: Natural fibers used for biomedical application should possess long-term usage in the body without rejection (Namvar et al., 2014). Recent work has studied the use of nanofibers as reinforcing material for the development of polymer composites specifically for medical applications. The researchers have explored the use of palm tree fibers for industrial and biomedical applications (Namvar et al., 2014). The potential use of biocomposites in the biomedical industry includes skins replacements for burnings and wounds; drugs releasing system; blood vessel growth; nerves, gum and dura-mater reconstruction; scaffolds for tissue engineering; stent covering and bone reconstruction (Hsu and Kao, 2005; Millon et al., 2006; Macocinschi et al., 2012; Musteata et al., 2010).

Development of biocomposites from natural fibers in biomedical applications are prepared using various types of polymer materials such as polyurethane and polvinyl alcohol (Hsu and Kao, 2005; Macocinschi et al., 2012; Musteata et al., 2010; Millon et al., 2006). On their studies, the stress-strain properties for porcine aorta are matched by at least one type of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-nanocellulose composite in both the circumferential and the axial tissue directions. A PVA-nanocellulose composite with similar properties as heart valve tissue is also developed.

Sporting goods: Bio-composite materials have used some sporting goods. A flax based bicycle and tennis racket that are currently available on the market (Francois, 2013). Advanced composites are now found in products used for 7 of the top 10 most popular outdoor sports and recreational activities (Lee, 2010). Carbon reinforced composites (hybrids with other fibres) continue to successfully replace wood and metal in high-volume components such as fishing rods, tennis racquets, golf clubs, spars/shafts for kayak paddles, windsurfing masts, kites and bicycle handebars, ski equipment.

Packaging applications: Packaging materials from renewable resources using natural fibers as reinforcement in their composite materials have been studied in recent years. The challenges in this application is that natural fibers filled polymer composites cannot replace the synthetic polymers due to their dominant hydrophilic character (permeability to gases and vapors), degradability and low mechanical properties (Johansson et al., 2012). However, synthetic polymers causes many environmental problems, so that natural fibers based composite can be employed in packaging application.

Several studies reported application of natural fibers as potential packaging materials because these materials have many advantages such as recyclability (Hirvikorpi et al., 2011). Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) from various plant sources is possible to produce such films with high transparency and improved oxygen barrier properties (Siro and Plackett, 2010; Majeed et al., 2013). Singh et al. (2008) reported that empty fruit bunch fibers embedded in polyester matrix was used in food packaging. Their products become an excellent barrier against gas and vapor transmission due to cellulose fiber reinforced to polymer in the composite.

CONCLUSION

The applied technology for converting agricultural biomass into products has been established for decades, however the production has not been realized due to the uncompetitiveness of the prices of the biomass to synthetic products. Nevertheless, current projections of future green, sustainable and renewable products suggest increased use of agriculture biomass in the coming decades. Cellulose fibers from agricultural waste are being used as potential reinforcing materials for various applications. Applications of cellulose fibers are mainly considered to be in the paper and packaging products, although those of construction, automotive, furniture, sporting good, electronics, pharmacy and cosmetics are also being considered. The interesting points of these materials are they are waste biomass and exhibit good mechanical properties. Increased use of agricultural waste for agro-based biocomposite product is expected to have some ripple effects in the agriculture sectors.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors would like to thank the School of Life Sciences and Technology, Institut Teknologi Bandung and Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) for providing the necessary facilities that has made this work possible.

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