‘Outsmart climate change to protect crops’

Climate change being caused by the global warming phenomenon was making crop protection highly challenging, Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Trilochan Mohapatra said here on Sunday.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the 19th International Plant Protection Congress (IPPC-2019), he called for a “global plan for global pests” such as fall armyworm. A segmented approach to tackle global pests would not work and warrants a global plan although integrated pest management approach had helped increase yields so far, he stated.

Underscoring the need to further explore biological control mechanisms, enhance surveillance and monitoring and exhaustively screen crop germ plasm for host resistance, Dr. Mohapatra said the insects, pests, diseases and weeds were resulting in 35% to 40% loss in crop yields globally valued at over US$250 billion despite application of pesticides costing nearly US$35 billion annually.

In general, pest associated losses vary from 13.8% to 35.8%, which at times reach 100% during outbreaks. Invasive weeds, insect pests, diseases and nematodes were likely to become more serious due to global warming and climate change, Dr. Mohapatra, who is also the Secretary of the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, said.

Throwing light on the Indian approach to tackle pests including recent invasions by fall armyworm, Dr. Mohapatra stressed the importance of bio-control measures stating that there was a need to balance pesticide use with natural methods of plant protection. He mentioned that the Indian government was in the final stages of formulating guidelines for nano- pesticides and nano-fertilizers and sought for increased research to identify resistance traits in crops.

Chairman of the IPPC-2019 organising committee Hari C. Sharma hoped that the event would provide a unique opportunity to learn about the advances made in crop protection internationally. The deliberations would help identify challenges being faced as a fallout of global warming and the climate change having major bearing on pest associated crop losses, food security and the environment.

Presentations by entomologists, plant pathologists, weed scientists and other scientists would address many key plant protection issues that farmers, policy makers and governments were dealing with worldwide, said president of International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences, Geoff Norton.

Director General of ICRISAT Peter Carberry spoke about pest invasions due to climate change factors such as increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 8:37:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/outsmart-climate-change-to-protect-crops/article29939036.ece

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