Agriculture Scientists and Experts have emphasized the need for stepped-up efforts to overcome the potential threat of pests that are responsible for the loss of billions of rupees to national economy. They were addressing the International Entomological Congress arranged by the Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad at the New Senate Hall, here Friday.
The congress was meant to address the issues of crops’ pests including pink boll worm, fruit fly and others. Chairing the session, UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said pink bollworm has emerged as a threat and difficult to manage in cotton growing areas. He stressed upon the need of joint efforts to map out a strategy to decrease the impact of the plant diseases.
He said agriculture was facing major risks due to climate changes, higher average temperature, glacial retreats, floods, and frequency of droughts. He said that with climate changes, new plant diseases were coming out. He said that it was the need of the hour to develop the climate resilient varieties. He was of the view that the modern trend to overcome the plant pest can not only increase the productivity but also decrease the losses.
He said that soybean had tremendous scope in our farming system. He showed his concern that the country was importing the oil worth billions of rupees. Punjab Agricultural Research Board Chief Executive Dr Noorul Islam said that the cotton production had faced the 40 percent decline in 2015-16 due to the pink bollworm.
He maintained that we have lost 4 million bales of the cotton in the said period. He was of the view that cotton area had declined from 6 million acre to 4.3 million acre as the farming community faced the loss due to PBW. He said that cotton growers shifted the land for the sugarcane growing.
He said that efforts are being made to revive cotton that is less water intense crop. He said that the cotton is the one of key players of the economy. He urged the scientists to come up with the tangible solution to minimize the loss of PBW and other pests. Dean Faculty of Agriculture Prof Dr Muhammad Amjad said that depending on the extent of infestation and weather conditions, this pink ball worm can cause about 20 to 30 per cent crop loss. He urged the researchers to come up with the viable solutions to address the issue. He said that control costs for PBW in Southern California and Arizona were estimated to exceed $1.2 billion over the past thirty years. Dr Hafiz Abdul Qayum said we need to develop new varieties of short duration and suitable for different ecologies in the country.
Entomology Department Chairman Prof Dr Jalal Arif said that Pink Bollworm (PBW) can cause 35-90 per cent loss in cotton yield; and 2.1 to 47.1 per cent loss in oil content. He said that PBW would increase due to global warming, specifically, increases of 1.5 – 2.5 C in average temperatures would greatly enhance winter survival and allow expansion of PBW.
Talking about implementation of pink bollworm management technologies, he suggested array of cultural controls, particularly implementation of plow down regulations, collection and destruction of wastes/residues of ginning factories and mapping of all cotton fields and extensive trapping to monitor population during on- and off-season with light-and/or pheromone-traps. He also recommended discourage single gene Bt cotton cultivation, monitoring for Bt resistance and season-long pink bollworm control on bt-as well as non-bt cotton.
He said that Punjab Chief Minister had given the task of revamping the agricultural policy to UAF Vice Chancellor in which all issues are addressed effectively. He said that the UAF had developed a culture of internationalization and it is the only institutions ranked among the top 100 universities of the globe. Dr Thomas A Miller from USA said that said hat pink bollworm is costing US cotton producers more than $32 million each year in control costs and yield losses. To eliminate this annual burden, in 2002, the industry began Phase I of a pbw eradication program 2002 to eradicate this key cotton pest.
source: Business Recorder