Cotton is Pakistan’s largest industrial sector but is impacted by many pests. The pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) is considered its worst enemy as it affects the quality of the lint and, ultimately, loss of the crop.
In total the cotton industry in Pakistan is losing around 10-15% of its value (around US $350m a year) through poor production, transport and storage practices – with the pink bollworm adding further to the farmers’ woes.
The adult pink bollworm is a small, thin, grey moth with fringed wings. The female moth lays eggs in a cotton boll and, when the larvae emerge from the eggs, they inflict damage through feeding.
Pheromone is a chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an insect. It affects the behaviour, or physiology, of others of its same species in which they release a specific reaction, or developmental process, such as aggregation alarming and mating
This is the story of Changal Khan, Atta Muhammad and Muhammad Ibrahim from the Matiari District of Pakistan. Since joining, they have attended all training programmes as part of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and always try to implement the practices that they have learned in their fields.
CABI is working under the auspice of the BCI to help farmers produce better cotton that takes social, environmental and economic criteria into account while addressing ways to tackle cotton pests, integrate soil management, adopt modern water conservation technologies and practices, and manage natural habitats.
Its work also serves to instil proper cotton picking to avoid contamination, better storage and transportation to markets and ginning mills where they process it, and enable farmers to adopt a decent work strategy.
Changal Khan, Atta Muhammad and Muhammad Ibrahim highlighted that they had achieved limited success trying to tackle many insect attacks on their cotton crops using various pesticides. However, after consulting with CABI’s Field Facilitator, they decided to apply non-polluting and more environmentally sustainable pheromone capsules on their cotton fields.
The men stated that CABI’s Field Facilitators told them that they could control the pink bollworm without the use of pesticides and at a very low cost.
Minute quantities of pheromones are required to attract and kill a large number of insects and hence they are more economical to use. Pheromones are species specific and present no hazard to non-target organisms. Pheromones also help to monitor the build-up of the pest population. This is a labour-saving method since a large number of insects are brought in from a long distance.
Field Facilitators supported the farmers to install the pheromones traps in 3 and 5 acres of cotton crop for trial purposes. They were advised not to apply any pesticide so that a comparison between the two methods could be surveyed.
They highlighted that after installation, we visited the field as always on a regular basis to check the pheromone capsules and we were amazed to see the result of that technology. Without using any pesticides so many pink bollworm adults were seen trapped in each bottle. We recommended that pheromone capsules should be used extensively so that beneficial insects can be conserved.
The farmers were keen to show their demonstration plots to other farmers and motivated them to also move towards the application of pheromone capsules.
After seeing that result some other farmers, Muhammed Hashim and Nihal Khan installed pheromone capsules on 1 acre and 2 acres of land respectively. They thanked CABI for sharing expertise on the pheromone capsules – especially their cost benefit, reduced environmental pollution and impact on human health as well as their help in saving local biodiversity.
Main photo: CABI Field Facilitators support the cotton farmers in the Matiari District of Pakistan to grow better cotton while fighting the pink bollworm pest (Credit: CABI).
Mushtaque Ali (Producer Unit Manager)
Allah Bux (Producer Unit Manager)
Ghulam Nabi (Producer Unit Manager)
Relevant project page
See also the project page ‘Producing better cotton in Pakistan.’
Other relevant blogs
See also the blogs ‘Better Cotton Initiative is empowering rural women in Pakistan through entrepreneurship’ and ‘The advantage of developing ‘linkages’ for Better Cotton Initiative in Sindh province, Pakistan.’
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