Joint CABI-PARC endeavors yield natural solution for combating troublesome invasive species

By Staff reporter | Pakistan Observer Jun 16, 2023

The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Islamabad, in collaboration with CABI, has taken a significant step in combating the parthenium weed, which poses various risks to biodiversity, human and animal health, as well as food security in Pakistan.

This invasive species, also known as ‘famine weed,’ not only triggers life-threatening allergic reactions but also serves as a habitat for malaria-carrying mosquitoes while displacing native plant species.

To address this issue, a sustainable approach to managing the parthenium weed has been introduced through the release of 500 stem boring weevils (Listronotussteosipennis) at the NARC. Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali, Chairman of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), graced the event as the chief guest, alongside distinguished guests including Dr. Babar Bajwa, CABI’s Senior Regional Director for Asia, Dr. Imtiaz Hussain, a member of the PSD PARC, and Dr. Shehezad Asad, Deputy DG NARC, who were present at the release ceremony.

In his Opening Remarks, Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali, Chairman PARC, emphasized often-overlooked contributions of researchers and emphasized the importance of recognizing their diligent efforts in developing new crop varieties and environmentally friendly solutions.

As the use of pesticides to combat the threat of parthenium continues to rise and pose a significant risk to the organic agricultural industry, the introduction of stem boring weevil is a groundbreaking advancement in ensuring organic agriculture in Pakistan.

This permanent, eco-friendly, and zero-cost solution is a vital instrumentin mitigating the parthenium threat. Furthermore, Dr. Ali emphasized the urgency of increased research investments and the establishment of platforms specifically aimed at supporting young scientists and researchers.

These measures are essential for bolstering the capacity of the agricultural sector and fostering food security.

Dr. Babar Ehsan Bajwa, CABI’s Senior Regional Director for Asia, revealed that CABI has been actively collaborating with Pakistan since 1957, which marked the establishment of the initial agricultural research station. PARC, representing the Government of Pakistan, has been working closely with CABI in pursuit of shared goals.

Notably, a nature-friendly solution has been discovered to tackle the parthenium problem, taking into account the ecological balance of the environment.

Towards the end of the press briefing, 500 Stem Boring Weevils were released at NARC to combat parthenium and to further investigate the effectiveness Weevils in the fields. The eradication of parthenium rosettes and mature plants can be accomplished through the activity of larvae that feed on the plant stems.

These larvae play a vital role in effectively destroying the parthenium infestation, contributing to the overall control of this invasive weed.

This introduction offers a more sustainable approach to parthenium management, without the need for chemicals or machinery that could harm the environment. It mitigates the negative ecological impact associated with chemical pesticides and mechanical methods, ensuring a more environmentally friendly solution.

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