Chemicals, Cotton

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a common-sense method that builds on practices that farmers have used for centuries, for example, using varieties resistant to pests, altering time of sowing and harvest, hoeing, removing crop residues and using botanical pesticides (eg neem and tobacco extracts). The name, IPM, goes back at least to the 1960s. In 1967, FAO defined IPM as ‘a pest management system that, in the context of the associated environment and the population dynamics of the pest species, utilizes all suitable techniques in as compatible a manner as possible and maintains the pest population at levels below those causing economic injury’. It seeks to reduce pest populations to economically manageable levels through a combination of cultural control (eg crop rotation, inter-cropping), physical controls (hand picking of pests, use of pheromones to trap pests), and less toxic chemical controls.

However, it allows the use of chemical pesticides, even synthetic and toxic ones, when there is a need. IPM techniques are specific to the agro-ecological production conditions in any given location, and may involve the use of pesticides. As a result, few general principles can be applied and no absolute standards set for production.

In Pakistan, research on IPM has a fairly long history. This was initiated as early as 1971 at the PARC research station in Rawalpindi, first as a seven year PL-480 funded project on bollworms, and a 3-year PL-480 project on the whitefly, and an institutional support project on integrated pest management, funded by the Asian Development Bank.

However, these projects have not had a serious impact on production methods. A major reason is the limited nature of the project, without efforts to mainstream it in the functioning of the major research institutions, especially the system of cotton research institutes. Second, the extension system is not equipped to handle results from the IPM research, since there are hardly any avenues for training of extension staff in this technology. Finally, the educational institutions (especially the entomology departments of agriculture universities) do not provide training or specialization in IPM, to ensure a steady stream of experts for staffing research, education, and extension departments.

Today, the number of institutions that influence agricultural allocation decisions runs into scores if not hundreds. To list only the most prominent of these, the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC), the system of Cotton Research Institutes (CRIs), the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council system, the Textile Commissioner, the Agricultural Prices Commission, the Federal Seed Certification Department (FCSD), various agricultural universities, and the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). The country has 4,000 agricultural scientists, 500 agricultural extension agents, and proportional numbers of officials in seed certification and supply, agricultural machinery provision, policy development and agricultural pricing, and agricultural credit, all in the public sector.