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Threat to agriculture: ‘Fruit fly infestation causing loss of billions to exports’

FAISALABAD: 

Fruit fly infestation has not only caused a huge loss to fruit growers but has also affected exports worth billions of rupees annually.

This was said by University of Agriculture Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan the other day. He was addressing the National Conference on Sustainable Management and Control of Fruit Fly Infestation. The event was organised by US Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security, University of Agriculture Faisalabad and Department of Entomology, UAF at New Senate Hall.

Dr Iqrar said, “If we could not overcome fruit fly attack, we will be isolated from the world in terms of fruit exports.” He added the UAF will carry out a commissioned research on the fruit fly to overcome the infestation.

He maintained, “The government is taking tangible steps to address the issue in the national agricultural policy, whereas the agricultural policy for Punjab is also being devised to fight the crisis”, Dr Khan added.

The vice-chancellor called for taking measures to prevent fruit fly from attacking the orchards especially citrus, mangoes and guava.

He said the Entomology Department of UAF and the USPCAS were running multiple research and development projects on the issue that will help bring positive results and policy recommendations.

On the occasion, USPCAS Chief Dr Bashir Ahmad said the world population will grow to nine billion by the mid of this century. He said, “We have to produce more food from the same resources.  The control of disease was prerequisite to increase the productivity and to provide benefit to the farming community.”

He said per acre water availability and agricultural land was decreasing, whereas the demand was increasing with the ever increasing population. He said fruit fly affects the production by 20% to 50% while in worst condition up to 80%.

Dean Faculty of Agriculture Prof Dr Muhammad Amjad termed it a serious threat to export of fruits and vegetables. He said that plant protection measures helped increase per hectare yield by protecting crops from diseases and controlling the pests. He said modern practices must be promoted and practiced in the fields to reduce the hazardous usage of pesticides.

He said that collaborated efforts were needed on the part of researchers, farming community and other stakeholders to address the issue. He said that the country was blessed with the tremendous resources, there is need to tap the potential.

Similarly, Entomology Department Chairperson Prof Dr Jalal Arif said Australia had developed a national fruit fly management plan.  He said fruity fly had become a national problem.  He added, “In order to export fruits, we have to meet international standards like ISO.”

Jalal pointed out that collaborated and comprehensive researches were vital to address the problem.

Climate Changes Chairperson Dr Ashfaq Ahmad Chatha said they will conduct commissioned research under the USPCA on fruit fly in order to overcome the problem. He said, “The frequency of fruit fly interception in recent years has increased dramatically and is expected to increase further due to climate change.”

Dr Shahid Majeed, Dr Shahid Mansoor, Dr Mansoor Sahi, Dr Amanullah, Dr Sohail Ahmad and others also spoke.

Source: The Express Tribune

Byline: Shamsul Islam

November 25th, 2016

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