« N.C. ag agents step up for N.C. farmers | Main | News from NC A&T State University »

November 12, 2008

IPM program fights global agricultural pests

fruit fly traps
Yulu Xia holds two types of fruit fly traps being used in Jamaica. (Photo courtesy of Yulu Xia)

Integrated Pest Management and information technology specialists at North Carolina State University are helping developing countries use the Internet to manage old pests and to guard their borders against new pests.

Funded by the U.S. Agency of International Development Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program (USAID IPM CRSP), Yulu Xia and Ron Stinner with the Center for Integrated Pest Management (CIPM) are developing a network of pest databases for developing countries around the world. The center is housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University. Xia and Stinner have been working with scientists from Clemson University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the Pennsylvania State University on these new global information systems that provide pest management guidance in English and in the native languages.

Southeast Asia
Bogor Agricultural University of Indonesia will use the system to share information about the Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB), a major pest in Southeast Asia. A pest that is relatively unknown outside of Asia, the cocoa pod borer is a potential threat to cocoa production in South America and Africa. The information system provides a detailed review of CPB’s history, biology, ecology, management practices and previous research. In addition, detailed images help identify the insect’s different stages, and mapping software allows users to track the pest’s movements from day to day.

The project team includes Xia and Stinner, Aunu Rauf from Bogor Agricultural University, and entomologists from Clemson University. They are currently refining the mapping system. The system will eventually allow the user to see information about CPB news, such as the time of the event, the nature of new findings and the source of the report. Xia, who is the principle investigator for the project, is the assistant director for international programs at the center.

West Africa
In West Africa, scientists from five countries have teamed up with scientists from Virginia Tech to develop a regional integrated pest management network. The network includes Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Gambia, part of the West Africa Regional IPM Consortium. The project involves a pest information database that will store information on insect pests, plant diseases, weeds and storage pests. The system also includes a pesticide training module that will provide pesticide safety information and links to pest information throughout the region.

The Caribbean
In Jamaica, Xia and Stinner are working with another team of scientists from the Pennsylvania State University and the Jamaican Rural Agricultural Development Authority to combat fruit flies. While fruit flies are mildly annoying to most consumers, they wreak havoc on the fruit and vegetable industry. In the United States and several other countries, fruit flies are at the top of the list of phytosanitary pests -- pests the U.S. wants to keep out.

The database, which eventually will include the entire Caribbean, includes monitoring data from hundreds of fruit fly traps in every Jamaican parish. The team is currently developing the mapping software needed to visualize changing fruit fly abundance and distributions.

South America
CIPM has also joined with scientists from the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Ecuador in developing a national pest management information system for identification and information sharing. Currently, scientists in Ecuador are collecting information and entering the data into the system.

“Pests in cocoa and other major crops are a very serious issue in Ecuador,” says Dr. Carmen Suarezcapello, director of the pathology department at the institute. “Growers come to our experiment station all the time to obtain pest management information. We need to set up a national pest information system to let growers obtain pest management information on line.”

For now, the center is developing a number of software options for
sharing global pest information such as pestMapper and Global IPM
Technology Database.

Posted by Natalie at November 12, 2008 10:55 AM