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Agricultural sustainability in Pakistan faces big challenges

ISLAMABAD: Agricultural sustainability in Pakistan faces huge challenges, only multi-party cooperation should be our bright future.
In order to improve this situation as soon as possible, all levels of Pakistan are cooperating with China to accelerate the development of biological control measures, said Abid Ali, Associate Professor of Entomology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) during an exclusive interview with Gwadar Pro.
Some sugarcane growers have introduced Trichogramma species, and local governments have adopted the method of releasing lacewing egg cards to prey on sucking insect pests in order to protect the cotton industry.
According to Ali, the Institute of Plant Protection of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the UAF jointly established a laboratory to cooperate in the sustainable pest management of major crops such as corn, cotton, and locusts, including personnel training, international student exchanges, etc., to study in depth the green plant protection technology (biopesticides such as pheromones, botanicals and toxins) that IPPCAAS is good at.
China and Pakistan are both countries with complex ecosystems and rich species. And both being major agricultural producers, the impact of climate change is closely related to bilateral future.
“Climate change always disrupt pest and disease control systems,” Ali points out, “temperature fluctuations lead to increased reproduction and spread of pests, and rising carbon dioxide concentrations are also likely to allow pathogens such as fungi to spread faster.
Extreme weather such as hail and hurricanes seriously disrupt the living environment of natural enemies of pests, etc.”
In a broader sense, the overall cooperation among the Belt and Road countries means more possibilities for biodiversity protection in the context of climate change.
Only through dynamic monitoring and sustainable management of pests and diseases in greenhouses or demonstration bases of different areas can the food security of all relevant countries be ensured.
Besides, cooperative research projects and the establishment of joint research laboratories are encouraged, thus all BRI countries can share cutting-edge technologies such as drones, multi-source information collection, spectral response mechanisms, big data models, pest monitoring remote sensing cameras and radar systems.
“Currently, many wildlife and arthropod populations, such as spiders, are used as biological indicators of environmental pollution and climate change.
The migration of insects with climate change is a huge challenge for the current sustainable development of agriculture. Therefore, the future of sustainable agriculture is important for protecting biodiversity safety, reducing environmental damage and ensuring food security.
Reducing chemical inputs, intercropping, protecting biodiversity, precision agriculture, these key measures for sustainable agricultural practices and climate change mitigation activities require not only China, Pakistan, BRI countries, but also the joint effort of the whole world,” Ali added.
“A range of factors, including crop yields, pest population dynamics and the overall stability of agricultural ecosystems, are affected by climate change, which has an influence on sustainable agricultural productivity that could not be underestimated,” he said.
Not long ago, Professor Ali just delivered in invited speech entitled Insect Community Ecology in Pakistani Agro-Ecosystem with Reference to BRI at the International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation and Ecological Security jointly organized by College of Life Science of Shenyang Normal University and UAF.
“Research showed that China and Pakistan share many common pests, including Fall armyworm, Tuta absoluta, locust, cotton whitefly, fruit fly, aphids, things like that. In recent years, these pests have had an increasing serious impact on ecological balance and food security due to climate change.”
Ali told Gwadar Pro, “I have been involved in China-Pakistan ecological protection cooperation since 2010. At present, Pakistani farmers are still highly dependent on pesticides in the agricultural production, while China has carried out comprehensive pest management through green control technologies on a large scale.
Obviously, Pakistan lacks a strong, efficient pest monitoring and early warning technology (such as insect radar and other monitoring tools).
The domino effect caused by the misuse of pesticides is that China closely monitors the maximum residence limits/levels of pesticides in agricultural products, but Pakistan lacks such assessment tools. Such vicious spiral has caused huge obstacles to the export of our specialties- mango and rice, seriously affecting the country’s foreign exchange earnings.”
It is learned that UAF has launched research on a series of prevention and control measures, including large-scale breeding of Chrysoperla species and Parthenium Biological Control.
In addition, the integrated pest management blocks for genetically modified cotton under the management of the provincial government is undergoing its third year of biological control trials, with measures including plant biopesticides, sticky traps and pre-sowing seed treatment technologies.
“However, agricultural sustainability in Pakistan faces huge challenges, only multi-party cooperation should be our bright future,” Ali indicated frankly. – INP