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Decades of IPM innovation recognized
AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center receives award for 40 years of multidisciplinary teamwork and partnerships that have helped farmers control plant insect pests and diseases across the globe.
By: M. Mecozzi
The award was presented to all of the Center’s plant protection specialists and breeders—past and present—and to the partners who have contributed to the success of the institution’
Plant Pathologist Jaw-Fen Wang and Entomologist Srinivasan Ramasamy accepted the award on behalf of their colleagues, including Tomato Breeder Peter Hanson, Pepper Breeder Paul Gniffke, and Virologist Lawrence Kenyon. Marlene Diekmann, from Germany’s Advisory Service on Agricultural Research for Development (BEAF) Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and a member of the AVRDC Board of Directors, also was present at the award ceremony.
“This award acknowledges the Center’s long tradition of applying science to improve livelihoods for poor farmers,” said Dyno Keatinge, AVRDC Director General. “It reflects the Center’s continuing commitment to agricultural progress in the developing world, and better health for all.”
Successful IPM strategies combine use of resistant varieties, cultural practices, monitoring, mechanical and biological controls, and responsible pesticide use for a more ecologically sound approach to agriculture.
IPM strategies that work
In South Asia, eggplant often is the only vegetable available at an affordable price for the rural and urban poor during the monsoon season. In Bangladesh and India, farmers sprayed insecticides up to 180 times during a 6-7 month growing season to control eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB), a pest capable of destroying an entire crop. An AVRDC IPM strategy promoted in the two countries involved better field sanitation, prompt removal and destruction of infested plant shoots and fruits throughout the season, the use of sex pheromone traps to attract and kill adult EFSB males, and withholding pesticides for as long as possible to allow the pest’s natural enemies to thrive. By following the IPM strategy, farmers were able to reduce pesticide use by 65-75%. In Bangladesh, farmers sprayed pesticides only 21-22 times per season compared with 90-110 times in non-IPM fields. The strategy has been adopted by many communities beyond the initial implementation locations, with a significant impact on food security in the region.
Improvements through breeding
Insect- and disease-resistant vegetables bred by the Center’s researchers over the years have now become integral parts of IPM strategies in Africa and Asia.
More than 164 tomato varieties based on the Center’s improved breeding lines have been released in 39 countries to help farmers deal with the three most challenging problems of tomato production in the tropics: geminiviruses transmitted by whitefly, which cause tomato yellow leaf curl disease (TYLCD), bacterial wilt, and late blight. In East Africa, AVRDC improved varieties increased tomato production by almost 40%, reduced production costs by 17%, and increased farm income by 21%. In India, tomato varieties resistant to bacterial wilt and TYLCD produce 87% higher yields and receive 90% better market prices than non-resistant varieties.
Peppers are popular throughout Asia, but both chili and sweet pepper suffer from many diseases and are difficult to grow in hot, humid conditions. The Center has released 99 chili pepper and 39 sweet pepper lines with improved resistance to anthracnose, bacterial wilt, Phytophthora blight, and viruses. A survey of 29 Asian seed companies showed that 16% of the chili pepper cultivars they will release in the near future were developed from AVRDC improved breeding lines.
Grafting is a useful method to counter soil-borne diseases and waterlogged soils. The Center’s grafting technology, in which tomato and pepper scions are grafted onto disease-resistant, flood-tolerant rootstocks, allows farmers to produce high value vegetables during the off-season. In Vietnam, grafted tomatoes yielded 60 tons per hectare in Lam Dong—an increase of 50% in yield compared with non-grafted tomatoes.
A typical IPM strategy has six basic components:
Preventive cultural practices: Planting resistant varieties suited to local growing conditions, maintaining healthy crops, and removing infested plants.
Acceptable pest levels: Wiping out an entire pest population is often impossible, and the attempt can be expensive and environmentally unsafe. Allowing a pest population to survive at a reasonable threshold reduces the possibility of the pest gaining resistance to natural defenses or pesticides.
Mechanical controls: Simple hand-picking, erecting insect barriers, using traps, and tillage to disrupt breeding can help keep pest populations in check.
Biological controls: Predator and parasitoid insects that eat and develop on target pests and biological pesticides derived from microorganisms such as Bacillus thuringiensis or entomopathogenic fungi provide control with minimal or no environmental impact.
Responsible pesticide use: Selective and systemic chemical pesticides are carefully targeted to specific stages in the pest life cycle and used only if necessary to protect or save a crop.
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International nonprofit institute for vegetable research and development. Develops vegetable lines and sustainable farming technologies to increase the production and consumption of nutritious, health-promoting vegetables in developing countries.