Nearly 1000 farmers in Karnataka are set to be trained as ‘Plant Doctors’ in a major programme funded by the Karnataka State Department of Agriculture and Bio-Control Research Laboratories (BCRL), part of Pest Control India Ltd. (PCI), and supported by CABI. By the end of March 2011 there will be enough trained plant health workers to run 72 independent, community-based plant health clinics throughout the state.
The detection of the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) in a citrus grove in Ventura County, California, has set alarm bells ringing in the Californian citrus industry, and led to the imposition of a quarantine in the County just as the citrus harvest was getting under way. The psyllid, now found throughout Florida and present in a number of other U.S. states, is a serious pest of citrus, and is the primary vector for citrus greening (also called Huanglongbing or HLB), one of the more serious diseases of these fruit crops. All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease, and there is no cure once a tree is infected with HLB.
As weather patterns shift around the world due to changing climates, so this brings new challenges to crop protection. Pests and diseases can become a problem in new areas, or appear earlier, making it necessary to change crop protection practices. Conversely, some pests and diseases may become less of a problem as conditions become less favourable to them. In Brazil, the Climapest project is examining the potential effects of climate change on crop health, in order to guide policies and provide options enabling one of the world’s biggest agricultural producers to adapt to changing conditions. As IPS (Inter Press Service) reports, the project recently brought together 134 researchers from 37 institutions to discuss the issues.