FAISALABAD: 

Excessive use of pesticides is not only increasing the resistance among insects but is also affecting human health as infection caused by pesticide residues reach alarming levels.

This was stated by speakers at a conference on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of Fruits and Vegetables, organised by the Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF). Dr Oscar E Liburd from the University of Florida, USA was the guest of honor.

Pakistan imports 12,000 tons of active ingredients of pesticides in a year, this was revealed by the speakers at the conference.

Liburd stressed the need of adopting and promoting IPM techniques. He said over-reliance on pesticides could have negative consequences including worker safety issues, contamination of ground water and negative effects on beneficial arthropods including honey bee and others.

“Keeping the growing world population in view, it is essential to ensure utmost food security and safety,” Liburd added.

UAF Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said Pakistan is cultivating fruits and vegetables on 4% of land. Meanwhile, fruits production stood at 0.70 million tons whereas vegetables’ share was 0.72 million tons.

“Pakistan’s share in global market of fruits and vegetables is fetching $625 million,” added Khan.

Department of Entomology Chairman Prof Dr Jalal Arif said that it was a matter of grave concern that Pakistan’s annual fruit and vegetable losses amounted to $200 million because of the attack of fruit flies.

“Almost 1/3rd of the total harvest is destroyed by the pest,” he added while saying that the use of pesticides must be replaced with IPM.

Assistant Professor Department of Entomology Prof Dr Dildar Gogi said about 11 species of fruit flies had been documented in Pakistan.

“Due to pesticides use in fruit fly management during 2010, as many as 27 export consignments were rejected by EU countries while 175 were rejected by USA,” added Gogi.

The conference stressed the need for immediate replacement of pesticides with IPM as the production of horticultural crops including fruits and vegetables is estimated at 15.12 million tons. Vegetables contributed 50% to national horticulture production from more than 600,000 hectares.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2013.

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