FAO supports the use of biopesticides against locusts in Central Asia and Caucasus

Posted on 2023-05-05

Every year, locust infestations threaten Central Asian countries. Devouring crops and rangelands, they jeopardize the food security of thousands of people for which agriculture is the only source of income. For more than half a century, chemical pesticides have been the most rapid and efficient method to control locusts, UzA reported.


More than twenty years ago, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) started to use less hazardous control methods. FAO promotes in particular the use of biopesticides that affect locusts and grasshoppers only and has no negative impact on human health and the environment.


In this context, on 25-29 April 2023, a demonstration/trial on biopesticides was organized in Jizzakh, Uzbekistan, by FAO in close liaison with the Agency for Quarantine and Plant Protection under the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan. The event was covered by the FAO ″Programme to improve national and regional locust management in Caucasus and Central Asia″ and in this framework, with the support of the projects funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


This major event aimed at introducing biopesticides to Central Asian countries, with the overall objective to reduce the use of chemical pesticides against locusts, in a region where an average of 4.2 million hectares are treated annually. The envisaged demonstration/trial in Jizzakh involved all Central Asian countries as well as the Russian Federation. Including FAO experts, a total of 33 experts took part in the activities.


As was noted by the experts, a chemical pesticide is a poison by definition. Even if used appropriately, there is a risk to human health and the environment. If pesticides sometimes affect human health, they usually have a negative impact on the environment, even if minimal, because they indiscriminately kill other insects that are essential to the ecosystems. Pesticides can also pollute soil, vegetation, air and water. That is why biopesticides have a key role to play to safeguard human health and the environment.


The five-day demonstration consisted of treatments against hoppers of Moroccan (DMA), with two biopesticides, based on fungi Metarhizium acridum and Beauveria bassiana. The demonstration includes a presentation on the use of biopesticides in locust control, field application of the two above-mentioned biopesticides, mortality assessment and assessment of impact on non-target organisms.


Since biopesticides are relatively slow-acting products, the treatments were conducted during the demonstration itself but also about 8-10 days before to show efficiency and mortality to participants in addition to the absence of impact on non-target organisms. The demonstration trial is completed by post-application environmental monitoring to reveal the impact on non-target organisms, in particular arthropods.


The five-day activities in Jizzakh, Uzbekistan have been concluded with a roundtable discussion presenting lessons learned and recommendations. A similar demonstration trial is planned to be held in Caucasus in June 2023. Results of the two demonstrations/trials will then be reviewed together with all Caucasus and Central Asian countries, during the annual technical workshop scheduled during the autumn under the FAO Locust Programme.


Source: AKIpress News Agency

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