Agriculture continues to face new and complex challenges. Not only do these affect agricultural production, but also basic and applied agricultural research and education.
One key area of concern is the increasing threat from plant pests and diseases, made worse by climate change and environmental degradation. Farmers often turn to chemical pesticides to protect their crops, which can be harmful to humans, livestock and the environment. Biocontrols are seen as a way forward for sustainable agriculture, providing many benefits to farmers and the environment.
Biological control is a method of controlling pests and plant diseases using other organisms. It is an environmentally friendly, cost-effective and sustainable way of managing invasive species and has been used effectively for more than 100 years.
CABI organised a virtual one-day bio-protection roadshow in Pakistan to promote the use of biopesticides in the country. The event aimed to facilitate closer collaboration between Pakistan and several selected biocontrol manufacturers from Europe and China for the introduction and application of biological-based pest management approaches.
Attendees included representatives from the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), Department of Plant Protection (DPP), Pakistan Crop Protection Association (PCPA) and Crop Life Pakistan.
Speakers covered Pakistan’s agriculture policy in the context of crop health, the regulation of plant protection products, and the current status and implementation of pest management approaches in several different crops. Biocontrol manufacturer representatives were provided the opportunity to respond to current pest management approaches by proposing alternative biological-based pest management options already available elsewhere.
Dr. Ulrich Kuhlmann, Executive Director, Global Operations, CABI, explained how a non-chemical and targeted input, like biocontrol, can offer a systemic and balanced solution for sustainable agriculture. Biocontrols are based on an understanding of the farm ecosystem, life cycles, insect behaviour and the influence of agronomic practices on plant health.
Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali (Chairman, PARC) spoke about agricultural policy and the scope of biocontrol products in Pakistan. While, Dr. Muhammad Tariq Khan (DG DPP) described the existing pesticide regulation in the country, the status of a new amendment for registration of biopesticides that is being recommended for adoption. If supported this new amendment to the registration system will see two specialists’ forms: 1A for microbial biopesticides and 1B for biochemical biopesticides. The DPP also plays a role in quarantine, locust prevention, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, advisory services, capacity building and export-oriented research.
The second half of the virtual event focused on the commercialisation and technological developments of bioproducts for sustainable agriculture. The summit also brought together biocontrol, bio-stimulant, and biofertilizer producers and association representatives from both national and international companies.
Bio-protection products in Pakistan
Dr. Muhammad Irfan from PACA and Mr. Rashid Ahmed from Crop Life, representing the consortium of National and International Pesticides companies respectively, each presented their vision and business strategy. This included information on the current status of bioproducts in Pakistan and their aims for launching low-risk plant protection products. Both praised the efforts of the DPP in streamlining the registration process for biocontrol products in Pakistan.
However, they also highlighted that while the bioproduct market has been growing significantly over the past few years, there is still uncertainty from within the industry on how to get the products effectively to the market. Regulations, testing, registration, and scaling up production continue to be major challenges.
The event highlighted the innovations in the area of biological controls and the benefits of drawing on and adapting technologies developed in or for other sectors. It is hoped that by building connections and knowledge sharing, the event will help in the development and commercialisation of biocontrol products in Pakistan.
Find bioprotection products for your crops: BioProtection Portal
PlantwisePlus is a global programme, led by CABI, to increase incomes and grow safer and higher quality food through sustainable approaches to crop production.
Working in close partnership with relevant actors, PlantwisePlus strengthens national plant health systems from within, enabling countries to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less and feed more.
CABI gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS, Netherlands), the European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships (INTPA,EU), the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), for the PlantwisePlus programme.
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