A pox on pests

Published: Tuesday 31 January 1995

A pox on pests

-- INSECTS destroy a major part of standing crop, damaging the predominantly agrarian economy of the developing countries. That traditional pesticides are indisputably environmentally detrimental is an established fact. The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), in Nairobi, Kenya, directed by scientists from the developing world was founded in 1970 to curb the depredations of the pest.

The icipe conducts research dividing their programme into 4 sections: plant resistance to insect pest (prip); biological control; biomass; and applied control and insect mass-rearing technology. prip aims to provide appropriate information to various national and international centres facilitating cultivators. Successful development of maize and sorghum species resistant to Chilo partellus has been its major achievement. Major pests targeted are Chilo partellus and Busseola fusca of maize and sorghum, the banana weevil or Cosmopolites sordidus, and Maruca testulalis -- a major cowpea pest.

The icipe also offers professional training at postgraduate and postdoctoral levels, and short-term courses for scientists and technicians. It has a network of regional centres, including the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (icrisat) at Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh in India.

ICRISAT is mainly working to improve sorghum, millet, chickenpea, pigeonpea and groundnut yields. The pigeonpea hybrid, icph 8, released in 1974 by icrisat, was the world's first pulse hybrid. By cooperating with national and regional research programmes, and by sponsoring seminars, workshops and training courses, it works for technology development and transfer.

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