Reducing the Use of Pesticides through IPM


Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a pest management philosophy, which employs a multi-disciplinary approach to managing pests, will lead to less reliance on chemicals such as pesticides which are harmful to the environment.
Speaking at JIS Think Tank, Phillip Chung, Senior Plant Protection Specialist at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), explained that IPM involved the use of all available means to control pests or to keep the population at a level, which would be acceptable.
This, he said, was with a view to minimise the use of pesticides, therefore reducing the level of chemical contamination of the environment and by extension providing safe food for local and foreign consumers.
Another disadvantage of using pesticide was that chemicals kill not only the targeted pests but also other beneficial or benevolent insects, he noted.
Mr. Chung informed that IPM is the manipulation of the ecosystem to minimise the growth of pests while enhancing crop development. This method, he said, involved an integration of five primary measures in dealing with pests.
“All of the measures employed in IPM are combined in a rational way to ensure that you prevent unacceptable damage while still protecting the environment,” Mr. Chung noted.
The plant protection specialist said that the first measure involved the use of cultural practices such as land preparation; drainage facilities; planting on mounds or on flat land and crop rotation sequence. All these factors affect the build up of pests, he added.
Secondly, there are also physical methods, for example, using heat such as hot water treatment of yams to kill nematodes, which can significantly improve yields.
Another method used to destroy pests is solarisation in which clear plastic is used to cover land for a period of time. The build up of heat in this process will kill the pests in the soil. These methods eliminate the use of pesticides.
There are also biological control methods, which involve the use of biological agents such as predators, parasites and pathogens. An example of a predator is the ladybird beetles, which are used to kill pink mealy bugs while spiders are used to get rid of insect pests.
Parasites are smaller insects, which lay their eggs on the pests. The eggs hatch and the young ones go into the pests and kill them.
An example of this is a tiny wasp, which is smaller than the mosquito and this is used in the eastern Caribbean to manage the pink mealy bug. This also eliminates the use of pesticides, stressed Mr. Chung.Pathogens include bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which have been formulated into commercial products and are sprayed onto crops. These formulations are more specific than conventional pesticides. This means that they attack specific pests without killing benevolent insects or organisms.
In explaining the last method, the plant protection specialist noted that IPM includes the use of chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides, some of which are more toxic and specific than others. He pointed out that when utilising these chemicals in IPM, care has to be taken to use those chemicals, which are less toxic and are targeted to kill specific organisms.
Another reason for the use of IPM when growing crops is to accede to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements, which are geared towards ensuring that plant and food exports worldwide are safe for the target population.
In detailing the disadvantages of pesticide use, Mr. Chung noted that the continued use of pesticides builds a resistance amongst pests.
This makes it more difficult to control the pests and so new chemicals have to be developed, he explained.
High pesticide use also causes contamination and pollution of waterways and soil, leaving residue on food. The plant protection specialist said it was with these considerations that the Earth Summit in Rio adopted IPM as the major pest management approach to be used globally and so IPM is used in many countries around the world.
Mr. Chung informed JIS News that there were a wide variety of programmes being conducted locally that were dedicated to IPM in the areas of research and development; training; monitoring and surveillance programmes and a networking programme where regional bodies share information on issues relating to pest management.
He cited the USAID sponsored IPM Collaborative Research Support Project (CRSP), which was a collaborative research project between US universities, universities in Africa, Asia, Central America and local agencies.
This project is currently doing research on hot peppers, calaloo, sweet potato, and pesticide residues with the institutions sharing information on issues that are of mutual interest.
There is also the FAO-sponsored Farmers Field School, which provides in-the-field IPM training for farmers. In addition, there is the GOJ/IDB sponsored, plant health, food safety project, which is currently working to establish plant health and food safety systems to facilitate global trade by strengthening local capabilities to meet the requirements of the global trading arena, Mr. Chung informed.
Pesticide awareness week is being observed from September 23 to 30. Activities to mark the week include a seminar on the distribution, handling and safe use of chemicals and the training of farmers in proper use of chemicals.

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