Preventing pest plagues
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CTA. 2004. Preventing pest plagues. Rural Radio Resource Pack 04/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57285
Dr Mackson Banda, Deputy Director of Agricultural Research in Malawi on how farmers and policies are working to stop cotton pests spreading in the country.
Preventing pest plagues Cue: Insect pests are one of the greatest dangers to a cotton crop. Preventing the spread and build up of pests is therefore one of the most important aspects of cotton production, both for the individual farmer, and for cotton producing countries as a whole. Farmers have a key role to play in fighting pests at the end of the season, after the cotton crop has been harvested. This is the time when cotton plants should be uprooted and burnt. Governments may also guard against cotton pests, for example through laws which prevent the importing of unchecked cotton seed. To find out more about the battle against cotton pests, Excello Zidana spoke to Dr Mackson Banda, Deputy Director of Agricultural Research in Malawi. He began by asking Dr Banda whether the chemical pesticides commonly used on cotton plants are safe for the environment. IN: ?These chemicals are safe? OUT: ? in the interest of the whole nation.? DUR?N 5?12? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Mackson Banda on some of the mechanisms being used in Malawi to control both cotton pests, and pesticide use. Transcript Banda These chemicals are safe to the environment if they are used judiciously. By judiciously I mean they should only be used when there is need to do so. But if you just use them indiscriminately you will pollute the environment. You will kill a lot of insects or even animals in the environment because these are poisonous. We must accept it, it is a fact. Zidana Now others talk of cultural practices trying to eradicate or eliminate or reduce pests and diseases in the cotton fields. Do you agree with that statement? Banda Yes I do agree. Zidana What are some of these cultural practices? Banda Some of the cultural practices: first and foremost is crop hygiene. Where you have grown cotton this year you must make sure that all the crop residues are uprooted, burnt. Because if you don?t do that some of these pests over-winter through this crop debris. So crop hygiene is one of the very important things. Plus early cultivation of the land, because some pests live in the ground, in the soil. They will form a cocoon and survive. But when you dig the soil you expose those which have been buried in the ground to the sunshine and then you disturb their life cycle. So this is very important in cotton production. Zidana Extension workers advise farmers to uproot the cotton stalks soon after harvesting. How good is that practice? Banda This is very good because if you have travelled to all cotton growing areas, if you leave cotton plants in the field you find these even late pests like cotton stainers flying all over the place. Now if you cut all these or you uproot all the cotton plants, you burn them, you reduce the breeding ground for these particular things. And then as you start the new season, you start with a fresh season, and a fresh crop, so that if there are any pests coming they should be coming within that season but not coming from one season to another. That would develop a bomb for the cotton crop. Zidana Now there are some diseases and even pests that spread from region to region, country to country. Are there special rules to maybe check the spread of diseases of cotton? Banda Yes we have a Cotton Act in the country which prohibits imports of unauthorised cotton varieties into the country. This is done first in the interest of protecting the crop from pests from other countries, even diseases being imported through seeds. So the government here has this Act which is in force so that we don?t just receive seed from elsewhere without proper verification of the phyto-sanitary, and sanitary measures that were taken in the place of production. So the law is there, it protects the farmer, it protects the economy, it protects the cotton industry so that it continues to flourish. Zidana How do you look at the use of chemicals as opposed to the cultural practices in cotton production? Banda Well at the moment we can say is, we don?t have a single method of controlling pests in cotton. What we are advocating at the moment is Integrated Pest Management. By Integrated Pest Management we mean use of cultural practices, use of improved varieties, use of chemicals where necessary, plus also crop hygiene, uprooting of stalks. Combining these is what we call Integrated Pest Management, so that no single method is the superior in pest management. We have to combine these methods in an integrated manner. Then it will be friendly to the environment. But if we just advocate chemical use, we will pollute the environment. Zidana Now lastly how do you work with the companies producing and selling chemicals in the country? Banda There is a law, there is the Cotton Act which is a binding thing. And we work in close liaison with all stakeholders in the cotton industry. This includes chemical manufacturers or sellers, ginners, cotton ginners, those who do bailing of cotton, those who do exporting of cotton, whoever is working on cotton we work with them. But the rule of thumb is that, if let?s say a chemical company wants to introduce a pesticide in the country, they have to come to the Ministry of Agriculture and apply and we have a committee which is called Agricultural Technology Clearing Committee which looks at the pesticides. So our scientists have to analyse that particular pesticide, evaluate it in the field, generate information under our local conditions and then be satisfied that it can work under our local conditions. Then we release it, officially release it, ask them to sell it in Malawi. We don?t just allow any importation of any junk to be sold on our soils because we are cautious, we need to protect the farmer. Zidana I have also heard about the Pesticide Control Board. How serious is this Board? Banda The Pesticide Control Board is very serious because if there is a banned pesticide they will take an action to say this must not be used on the soils of Malawi. This protects the environment, it protects us as human beings, it protects the natural fauna, the natural environment is protected. So people must realise that this Board is working in the interest of the whole nation. End of track.
SubjectsCROP PRODUCTION AND PROTECTION;
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