By Dr Umair Safdar, Development Communication Executive, CABI Pakistan
A Phytosanitary Risk Management Program (PRMP) in Pakistan is implementing a biological control program for pests of concerns in the Sindh, Gilgit and Skardu regions – with the aim of helping farmers grow more and lose less to invasive species.
In Balochistan, PRMP has established a Biological Control Laboratory at the Agriculture Research Institute Quetta to implement a biological control program for pests of apple crop (codling moth and spider mites). PRMP interventions are already achieving some successes with the identification of indigenous biocontrol agents (BCAs) of apple codling moth (Dibrachys microgastri and Elasmus sp. nr. johnstoni) and of predatory mites for apple spider mites (Mesostigmata mites).
Balochistan province is famous for producing apples, contributing more than 80% to the total apple production in Pakistan, and therefore has a significant impact on the household income of farmers in the region. However, apples are also prone to infestation by a number of different pests, of which the apple codling moth (Cydia pomonella) is of major concern.
Meet Rozina Babar, she is one of thousands of smallholder farmers in Pakistan whose livelihoods are threatened by agricultural pests and diseases that can devastate crops and ultimately have a severe impact on food security and profitability.
However, thanks to the CABI-led Phytosanitary Risk Management Programme – funded by USAID-USDA and working with partners including the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council – Rozina has seen increases in her income from Rs. 30,000 ($260) to Rs. 70,000 ($605).
The fruit and vegetable farmer from Rahimabad, a small village in the district Gilgit in the province of Gilgit Baltistan, has been trained by CABI to implement biological control methods to tackle the fruit fly pest which has been threatening her crops.