Q&A: The status of ICTs in integrated pest management
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CTA. 2003. Q&A: The status of ICTs in integrated pest management. ICT Update Issue 11. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
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In a recent interview, Dr. Yunlong Xia, Head of the Information Technology and Bioinformatics Department at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya, provided an overview of the status of and trends in the use of I
In a recent interview, Dr. Yunlong Xia (email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com), Head of the Information Technology and Bioinformatics Department at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya, provided an overview of the status of and trends in the use of ICTs in the field of IPM in developing countries. In what ways are ICTs helping to control pests? As a systems approach to pest control, IPM has benefited significantly from a wide range of ICT applications. In a http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/a/a/158/ recent review, Andrew Bartlett, Senior IPM Programme Development Officer at the FAO, categorized the various fields of IPM in which ICTs are being applied. These fields can be grouped as follows: IPM policy making and extension services; pest identification; IPM information dissemination and sharing; Internet-based decision support tools; and ICT-supported training. Can you describe these fields? By facilitating international communications and the sharing of resources and information, Internet-based networks have enhanced both the development of IPM policies and the effectiveness of IPM extension services. Initiatives such as the http://informatics.icipe.org/ipmafrica/ Africa IPM Forum at ICIPE, the www.fao.org/globalipmfacility/ Global IPM Facility at FAO, the CGIAR´s www.cgiar.org/spipm/ System-wide IPM Programme and many other http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/a/a/160/ online resources have helped decision makers and regional agricultural officers become more aware of the benefits of IPM approaches, and have contributed to the adoption and successful implementation of IPM policies in many developing countries. What´s more, these networks have enabled many extension services to improve their outreach, and with the assistance of ICTs in farm field schools and telecentres, many farmers in developing countries are now practising IPM techniques. ICT applications such as CD-ROMs and web-based tools for pest identification have been developed for a wide range of users, from farmers to students and researchers. Examples include the FAO´s www.ecoport.org EcoPort initiative, CABI´s Crop Protection Compendium and http://pest.cabweb.org/ PEST CABWeb, Cornell University´s www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/hortcrops/ Global Crop Pest Identification and Information Services, and the pest identification software and CD-ROMs produced by the www.cbit.uq.edu.au/ Centre of Biological Information Technology. Information dissemination and sharing have contributed to the implementation of IPM solutions for a wide range of pest problems. For example, initiatives such as www.IPMnet.org IPMNet, www.ag.vt.edu/ail/ Africa IPM a and www.ag.vt.edu/ipmcrsp/ IPM CRSP have developed a variety of effective ICT channels for disseminating information, such as websites, online databases and discussion forums, email list servers and multimedia CD-ROMs. In particular, the http://informatics.icipe.org/icwesa/ IPM Communications Workshop for Eastern/Southern Africa (ICWESA) in 1998 led to the establishment of regional online IPM collaborative networks for information sharing, including the Africa IPM Forum and Africa IPM a listserver. Internet-based decision support systems provide users with all the information they need to select the most appropriate pest control strategy, including means of pest identification, pest life cycles, sampling and decision-making criteria, sampling threshold calculations, and pest distribution models aed to weather monitoring systems. They also offer details of environmentally friendly biocontrol methods, as well as of available pesticides and their safety risks and environmental impacts. These applications could be further improved with the addition of ´intelligent´ functions such as http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/a/a/161/ e-learning tools and dynamic simulations of crop ecosystems. IPM training materials for many crop systems are available on http://ipmworld.umn.edu/chapters/macrae.htm CD-ROM or online. ICTs have also provided convenient ways to offer training via www.ent.iastate.edu/list/online_courses.html virtual campuses or distance learning courses tailored to the needs of the scientific community or farmers and extensionists. Many of the training materials can be used as reference materials by users in ACP countries, or have even been specifically developed for individual developing countries. What are some of the trends in IPM? With the growing range of mobile ICT applications, such as web-capable mobile phones, handheld computers and global positioning systems (GPS), IPM practitioners will be able to access relevant information anywhere, at any time. This may inspire insect informatics experts to create IPM information and products that are relevant for specific locations at particular times. As a result, I believe that in the future more web-based intelligent information systems will be developed that will allow users to access real-time online information that is relevant to their needs, rather than the technology-driven products that are currently available.
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