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.
At first sight the humble scale insect, Orthezia insignis doesn’t seem like it could pack much of a punch in a ‘fight’ against a range of native flora – but to make such an assumption would be very dangerous indeed.
In fact Orthezia insignis is a genuine invasive menace which in Hawaii, East Africa and South and Central America has, at times, wreaked havoc on numerous ornamental plants including citrus, coffee, olive, Jacaranda and Lantana.
CABI scientists have penned an important paper published in the journal Biocontrol Science and Technology which pulls no punches when it boldly states ‘the future of humankind and the rest of Earth’s biodiversity depend upon our research efforts generating solutions to the global challenges.’
Kurkali is a small village with 8700 households in Tehsil Sinjhoro, District Sanghar. Most of the farmers in this village are either ‘medium-sized farmers’, having less than 30 hectares of farmland, or small, with a farm size of 1 to 2 hectares. During the summer season, farmers grow cotton followed by seasonal vegetables and wheat. The literacy rate is very low in this area and the majority of the farming community only has education up to primary level.
The combination of small farms, poor yields and high inputs cost is pushing them towards poverty. Compounding this, the intermediaries often cause financial damage (debit) to profit, further dragging them under the poverty line. To improve livelihoods in such areas, farmers seeks innovative technologies to control insect pest and enhancement of soil fertility and professional extension services.
Whenever conservationists come together to discuss the future of endangered species, you can be sure someone, sooner or later, will suggest that nothing will be achieved unless one can ensure the humans living alongside, or sharing habitats with, animals can be encouraged to value them.
The word ‘value’ can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Some observers mean people ought to appreciate animals for what they are, fellow species on planet Earth, which contribute, in any number of ways, to biodiversity as a whole. Others are more inclined to view animals, particularly exotic species, as a living resource from which humans can benefit; through hunting, captive-breeding, eco-tourism, or whatever. They take what might be regarded as a somewhat mercenary approach to conservation, believing that fauna must contribute in some form to ensure their own long-term survival.
CABI board member Dr Prem Warrior says we must plug a US$80bn global shortfall in agricultural innovation if the world is to be 'smart' to the demands of feeding 10 billion people by 2050 and meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Warrior writes in The Economist Intelligence Unit blog that the challenge is not so much a lack of technology but investing in understanding how we can bring technology to smallholder farmers in developing countries and focus our efforts there.
Amy Hudson writes about what she learnt as a summer intern at CABI whilst working on the systematic review done in 2017 concerning the biological control of pests and the impact on crop yield. She spent time extracting relevant data from various online journals and compiled it so that a meta-analysis may be completed. Before starting at CABI, I knew very little about the biological control of pests in crops. I was given the opportunity to help out with the systematic review investigating the active use of natural enemies in reducing the adverse impacts of pests on yields and wasn’t sure quite what to expect. As a current university student having taken a couple of classes in environmental science, I wasn’t sure whether my current knowledge of environmental technical terms and concepts would suffice in order for me to do my work efficiently. After a lot of googling and asking my colleagues questions, I began to understand more of what the systematic review was all about and found it most intriguing. In fact, I found myself talking at my family explaining the work I was doing, what it might lead to in the meta-analysis, and ultimately, what this could mean for the work that CABI does in other countries and sustainable pest control in general.