Cotton is one cash crop of Pakistan which is attacked by a number of pests including sucking (aphid, jassid, white fly) piercing (mites), cutting (white ant) and chewing (boll worms). Izhar Nabi Sehto of Kurkuli village, district Sanghar of Sindh province, said the only option that comes readily to the farmer’s mind when looking for a control and management solution is pesticide.
But CABI in Pakistan, under the Better Cotton Initiative project, is providing training to farmers to help bring a change in their traditional approach to pest control and management. CABI recommends the use of more environment-friendly practices such as light traps, sticky traps and pheromone traps but above all is use of the Natural Enemies Field Reservoir NEFR technology.
NEFR is a technique which provides a pesticide-free and a suitable field environment for parasitoid to flourish and combat pests in a more sustainable and biological way – without the need for harmful chemicals. Farmers who use NEFR technology praise its mode of action and viability.
Ahmed Khan Marri, resident of Jewan Marri Farm, district Tando Allahyar, said, “I have been growing cotton since I have started working in the field and pesticide was the only option for me to manage pests. When pest pressure built up, my income was affected because of diminished profitability.”
CABI registered Mr Ahmed Khan Marri as a Better Cotton farmer and provided training about NEFR technology that could be adopted on his farm. Before too long the farmer became fond of the biocontrol method which is already starting to reap positive results with more profitable crops.
He added, “When I attended the training I learnt about the pesticide reduction strategy which focuses on NEFR technology. I was soon keen to start it at my farm. With the help of CABI field staff we constructed a semi-permanent shed with locally-available material and put two iron boxes under it.
“My workers and I put pest-affected cotton into these boxes, with special consideration given to mealy bug. I was amazed see the results. After about 12-16 days, iron boxes and crops close to NEFR were teeming with small black insects, almost half the size of a house fly. A CABI field facilitator in the area later identified these insects as Aenasius bambawalei – a biocontrol agent to control mealy bug.
“The wonderful thing is that they are economical in cost. Previously I used to apply pesticide to combat mealy bug, which costs me more than 25000 PKR. But since I decided to install NEFR technology, I am already seeing a return in a saved environment, reduced labour costs and healthier crops.
“This trend is now becoming popular and is attracting other farmers and organizations, such as Cotton Connect, WWF-Pakistan, Lok Sanjh and REEDS, who have already visited my farm to see how the NEFR technology is benefiting me.
“By experiencing NEFR technology I overcame my suspicions and can recommend it being used at other farms. It not only increases the numbers of targeted parasitoid but also gives other beneficial insects an environment to grow and raise their population. Other insects which can be easily seen on NEFR are different types of predator beetles, wasp, and many more.”
For more information about the Better Cotton Initiative visit bettercotton.org
Read the news story ‘CABI helps Pakistan’s cotton industry to reduce losses of around $350m a year’ here.
Find out more about ‘Producing Better Cotton in Pakistan’ from the project page.