Biological Insect Pest Management Protocol for Cabbage Pests

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Indiscriminate use of insecticides in Sri Lanka on all crops has been increased during the last few decades which is detrimental to the environment and human health. Due to overuse of insecticides, a large amount of insecticide residues accumulate in fruits and vegetables. The products with high amounts of insecticide residues are hazardous for human consumption. Furthermore, these products are not suitable for international markets as the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) exceed internationally accepted norms. As such, abiding by Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for crop cultivation, shifting to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes using biological agents and botanicals is a timely need.

The NSF support was extended through a Technology Grant contributing to Sustainable Development Goal No. 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. A project was successfully implemented at the Plant Quarantine Unit, Gannoruwa by Dr M T M D R Perera and Dr N Senanayake coordinated by Ms Nadeeja Wickramarachchi/Senior Scientific Officer of the NSF. The grantees were able to mass rear larval parasitoid, Cotesia plutellae to manage cabbage insect pest, diamondback moth (DBM). The protocol was tested at cabbage farmers’ fields at Thalathu Oya, Marassana and Nuwara Eliya areas and determined the success of insect pest management and percentage parasitism achieved. Further, comparative investigations on cost of insect pest management was estimated.

The developed biological insect pest management protocol under this grant has led to save Rs 103,055.00/ha/crop cycle for cabbage. The other positive factors of the suggested protocol are the benefits accrued to the human health and the environment by non-use of synthetic insecticides. The direct total financial benefit to the country by using parasitoids and botanicals for cabbage cultivation alone is estimated to be Rs. 441,351,410.00 (2.758 m USD/ year) if commercialized and all growers use the suggested protocol (4262ha). Accordingly, the project output gives a great impact to the economy of the country.

This protocol has a potential use not only on cabbage but also on all other crops belong to the Brassicaceae family as the insect pest complex is similar in other member crops such as Cauliflower, Kale, Chinese Cabbage, Knol Khol etc.

As the globe is moving towards toxin free organic production, it is expected that the protocol can easily be commercialized by establishing a Biological Insect Pest Control Infirmary. It is also ideal promoting the protocol to multi-million agro-chemical companies through market surveys. Further, the protocol will address and support to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goal 2.

Discussions are underway with the private sector to commercialize the mass rearing of bio-agents. Organic entrepreneur from Nuwara Eliya has already consented to carry out mass rearing of bio-agents and commercialize the protocol. A project proposal was also submitted to the Agriculture Modernization Project of the Ministry of Agriculture funded by the World Bank to implement the protocol in Matale District on pilot scale. Field awareness programmes to provide hands-on-experience are designed to transfer the protocol to farmers.

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