On July 21st, 2022, SAWIE, in collaboration with UPSIGN, held an online seminar on Integrated Pest Management Strategies in Cotton. The event was chaired by Dr. Khalid Mahmood, Vice Chair of UPSIGN and Lead Agricultural Food Group.
Mr Saqib Ali Ateel , Secretary Agriculture South Punjab at Government of Punjab, inaugurated the event. He described in details the economic importance of cotton crop to Pakistan contributing about $22 billion in export earnings. In recent year the cotton crop has been facing serious crisis due to climate change and associated threats from pests & diseases. Due to overuse of pesticides, several cotton pests especially white fly and Pink Bollworm has developed pesticide resistance. He touched upon the declining cotton production in South Punjab and discussed how this was due to a lack of clarity regarding pest management by farmers. He discussed several examples that use the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) regarding cotton, which include saving the cotton plant from stress, using pesticides only as a last line of defense, and managing pests in the off-season as well.
Mr. Saqib Ateel also highlighted the benefits of using IPM in Pakistan, which range from aiding ecosystem recovery, and decreasing chemical pollution, to improving workers’ health and safety.
Dr. Farooq Shah delivered talk on Integrated Pest Management with a focus on management techniques. He explained how to farmers cope with an increasing threat from Insect pests on their through applying more pesticides at a higher rate, which only exacerbates the problem by promoting pest resistance, making crops harmful for consumption, and increasing pesticide concentration in the environment as well. This is dangerous for a country like Pakistan, which has cotton as a major crop.
Dr. Farooq stressed on the importance of integrated pest management to remedy the situation. He proposed three pathways through which pest management can be improved: i) monitoring, biopesticides, ii) farm advisory, iii) training. Monitoring has many positive effects, ranging from early warning systems to timely intervention, and prevention of pesticide resistance. Biopesticides are another method that can be used to manage pests in a way that does not harm the environment. Finally, incorporating farm advisory and training will allow Pakistani farmers to work with the latest resources and information regarding pest management.
Dr. Farooq was followed by Dr. Owen Jones who talked about semiochemicals and their use in pest management. Dr Owen highlighted how pheromones can detect the presence of insects and pests in crops at earlier stages. He explained the three main ways in which control can be achieved by this method: through mass trapping, lure and kill, and mating disruption. Discussing applications of these methods over the world, from Italy and Portugal to France and Egypt, Dr Owen Jones explained how it can be aided in South Asia as well.
Following Dr Jones, Prof Shafqat Saeed, from Institute of Plant Protection, talked about IPM Strategies in Cotton. He highlighted the various causes of cotton failure, which included the excess usage of pesticides and increasing resistance of pests against pesticides. He also discussed how plant-based toxins can help control pests if used wisely.
Dr. Ghulam Sarwar Senior Scientist from Ayub Agri Research Institute also shared his experience of IPM strategies in cotton.
Finally, Prof Asif Ali, Vice Chancellor, MNSUA university wrap up the event with his closing remarks with the need of educating our farmers, promoting research and innovation to address challenges faced by Pakistan’s agriculture. Prof Ali discussed the problems plaguing agriculture in Pakistan, from no seed control to lack of awareness among farmers. He further stressed the necessity of working closely with farmers, academia and industry to find a solution to Pakistan’s problems that will help the country move forward and tackle the future problems that will invariably be caused due to climate change. Finally, Dr Khalid Mahmood extend his word of thanks on behalf of UPSIGN and encouraged students, researchers to connect with the UK universities and research institutes for developing collaborative projects.