16 May 2018 - CABI in Pakistan has agreed to extend its support for the development of agriculture in Balochstan province following a visit by Balochstan Director General Agriculture (Extension) Ali Raza Jamali and Director Agriculture Information, Balochstan, Abdul Karim Jaffar.
It was agreed, during a meeting at CABI’s Pakistan office in Rawalpindi, that there is a need for greater capacity building of extension staff to improve agriculture in the area and particularly joint efforts to overcome fruit fly and pink bollworm pests which are causing heavy crop losses in the area.
The meeting, which was attended by Regional Director – CABI Central and West Asia Dr Babar Bajwa and Deputy Director Programmes Abdul Rehman, also heard from Mr Jamali that while an international market demand for organic crops – such as melon, grapes, dates and cotton – are increasing, a lack of knowledge and information about international standards means that this produce is being sold too cheaply.
Mr Jamali added that the biological control of different insect pests of crops is the most sustainable solution to achieve the goal of organic produce from the province and visualizes the establishment of biological control labs in each district of province with CABI’s technical help.
Dr Bajwa, in underscoring the need to arrest the attack of insect pests on cotton and fruits in province, said, “We need a paradigm shift of Balochistan’s agriculture towards organic to hit the international market. He stated that
“CABI has expertise and technologies to manage the insect pests and will maximise its efforts to address the prevailing issues. A first step in this regard is the launching of the Plantwise program in province, initially in five districts and by the end of this year it will cover the whole province.”
Plantwise is a global programme led by CABI, which works to help farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems. Working closely with national agricultural advisory services, it establishes and supports sustainable networks of plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice.
Riaz Mahmood, Senior Biological Control Specialist at CABI stressed the need to regulate the misuse of pesticides in the province and that as the soil is less disturbed has the potential to give a good yield, while the threats posed by insect pests could be managed by Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices.
The meeting concluded with Mr Jamali praised the initiatives of CABI for the improvement of the agricultural sector, especially for smallholder farmers, as well as the training of extension field staff of Balochistan province. He reiterated the desire for joint working for the benefit of Balochistan’s agriculture moving forward.