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Building capacity for directly planted rice

As a very important crop in India, the growing of rice and tackling pests and diseases is given lots of attention. Rice that’s planted directly into the field cuts effort and water consumption but increases the likelihood of pest damage. Our aim therefore is to develop a sustainable and scalable system of plant health management, especially for directly planted seedlings, to encourage an irrigation-economy for rice production.

Promoting sustainable tea production in India

India is the second largest producer and exporter of tea in the world and it can be a powerful engine for development. However, tea crops here suffer from a range of pests and diseases. Pesticides are the main management solution but this results in increased production costs and potential risks to human health. So, we undertook a major scientific research study to evaluate the use of ecological pest and disease management strategies. The project aimed to establish proof of concept for the judicious use of inputs in the tea ecosystem and develop a toolkit of non-chemical pest management practices which can encourage the sustainable production of tea.

Finding a biocontrol for Himalayan raspberry

Yellow Himalayan raspberry is a major threat to native Hawaiian forests. A single plant can grow into a 4m tall impenetrable thicket, and its aggressive growth and rapid colonization enables it to outcompete native species. Current control methods are both labour intensive and costly. The aim of this project is to find biological control agents (both arthropod and fungal) from the plant’s native Indian and/or Chinese region of the Himalayas to control its spread in the Hawaiian introduced range.

Controlling wild ginger

Plants from the Hedychium genus are widely loved and cultivated as ornamentals but a few are threatening delicate ecosystems in Hawaii, New Zealand, the Macaronesian Archipelago (Azores, Madeira and the Canaries), Brazil, Australia and La Réunion. We are researching natural ways to manage the plants where they have become invasive, which involves returning to their original home range in the North eastern Himalayan foothills to try to find damaging and specific insects and/or pathogens which may prove suitable for release in the invaded range.

Improving SPS training and knowledge sharing in cocoa (CocoaSafe)

Cocoa is an important source of income across Southeast Asia. To maintain access to markets, and sustain farmers’ livelihoods and national GDP, all food safety and international SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) standards must be met. This project is building SPS capacity in the region, to ensure production and trade meets legislation on pesticide residues and other harmful substances. Best practices will be promoted throughout the value chain – from production to export – to improve quality.

Manju Thakur