UAF, CABI Organize Seminar on Biological Control of Parthenium – Pakistan
FAISALABAD: Parthenium is a very destructive weed, crossing continents and, the weed is spreading rapidly in rural and urban landscapes of the country. Parthenium is highly invasive due to its prolific seed production, flower production within four weeks of germination, tolerance to variable climatic conditions, and production of allelochemicals that affect the growth of neighboring plants, a said Professor Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Vice-Chancellor. , University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) during an international seminar at UAF.
UAF in collaboration with CABI Regional Bioscience Center Pakistan organized an international seminar on biological control of Parthenium hysterophorus in Pakistan using stem borer weevil (Listronotus setosipennis). Dr. Iqrar Ahmad Khan urged scientists to come up with new ideas and solutions to address challenges in agriculture along with outreach/awareness activities to disseminate research findings and results to the farming community.
CABI Switzerland biological weed control specialist Dr. Philip Weyl said in his speech that Listronotus is a natural enemy of parthenium, native to the weed’s native range in Central America. Listronotus is a nocturnal weevil that lays its eggs primarily in parthenium flowers where newly hatched larvae tunnel into the stem and continue to feed, eventually emerging at the base of the stem to pupate in the soil. Multiple larvae feeding on the stem can kill parthenium rosettes and mature plants.
The Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof. Anas Sarwar Qureshi called for innovative approaches to address the problem in the agricultural sector. He said the excessive use of chemicals on crops created health and environmental risks. He said adopting the latest scientific trends was the need of the hour to tackle agricultural challenges at the national level. He said the agricultural sector was directly linked to poverty reduction.
UAF Professor of Entomology, Professor Sohail Ahmad, stressed the importance of the research needed around the biological control of parthenium and other invasive weeds. He said the country has faced disaster due to heavy floods in which we have lost the vast range of agriculture. He said the university had drawn up a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the area.
CABI’s Abdul Rehman points out that, given the destructive effects of the herb parthenium; CABI initiated a biological control program in Pakistan in 2017. To this end, CABI established a new quarantine laboratory at its center in Rawalpindi, Pakistan to improve its parthenium weed management capabilities.
The new quarantine facility allowed scientists to study a range of biological control options, including the stem borer weevil Listronotus setosipennis. The quarantine facility complements the comprehensive National Action Plan, launched in October with a focus on research, development and communication, adding greater capacity for scientists to investigate the potential of existing biological controls and new ones before their release in the field.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022