20 October 2012, Bengaluru
Dr S Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR, while inaugurating the celebrations meet, appreciated the efforts made by the entomologists of National Bureau of Agricultural Important Insects (NBAII), Bangalore, in identifying the mealybug correctly leading to the short listing of probable biological control candidates including their source of availability.
National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects, Bangalore, celebrated success of biological control of papaya mealybug in India as a part of their Institute Foundation day celebrations.
Dr S Ayyappan highlighted the damages caused by important mealybug pests on different crops. He emphasized that these mealybug pests cannot be managed by the use of toxic chemical insecticides as they are well protected by their waxy mealy secretions.
The annual estimated economic benefit accrued to the farmers in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka alone accounts for Rs. 1623 crores per year besides indirect benefit of reduction in hazardous effects of pesticide usage for the management of this deadly invasive mealybug using Acerophagus papaya. This tiny parasitoid measuring less than 1 mm saved a big crop loss especially in mulberry, cassava and papaya.
Dr. TP Rajendran, Assistant Director General (PP), gave the detailed account of papaya mealybug incidence and its successful biological control efforts in India. He chaired the technical session wherein scientists from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra presented the economic analysis of the classical biological control of papaya mealybug on papaya, mulberry and tapioca.
The scientists and progressive farmers involved in the successful classical biological control of papaya mealybug were felicitated by the Director General, ICAR. Five publications were also released on the occasion.
Dr Deepa Dhankhar, Agriculture Specialist, USDA-APHIS; Dr R J Rabindra, Dean, College for PG, Dr SMH Qadri, Director, CSR&TI, Mysore; Dr B Senapati, Chairman, RAC-NBAII; Dr EI Jonathan, Director, CPPS, TNAU, Coimbatore; Dr A Regupathi, Science Advisor, Senthil Papain, CBE; Dr T Venkatesan, Secretary, SBA also addressed on the occasion of celebration of successful bio-control of papaya mealybug in the country.
More than 150 scientists and research scholars from different ICAR Institutes, State Agricultural Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, State Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, USDA-APHIS and Industries participated in the deliberations. In the technical session, economic benefit accrued to the farmers’ due to the release of the exotic parasitoids for the cultivation of papaya, tapioca and mulberry in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra was presented and discussed.
Earlier, Dr B S Bhumannavar, Director of the NBAII, in his welcome address, highlighted the salient features of the success story of biological control of papaya mealybug in India. The papaya mealybug, an alien invasive pest, appeared on papaya in Coimbatore during July 2008. Being an aggressive insect pest, this mealybug soon spread to other economic plants like tapioca, mulberry and teak besides attacking more than 100 other plants including weeds. The Papain, Sago and Silkworm industries were threatened by the menace of this alien invasive mealybug.
Based on this information, a request was made to USDA-APHIS, New Delhi, for the supply of three parasitoids. Dr. Marc Gilkey, Agricultural attaché at New Delhi immediately coordinated and arranged for the mass breeding of these parasitoids and supplied five shipments from July-October, 2010 to NBAII from their APHIS laboratory in Puerto Rico. Dr RJ Rabindra, then Director, NBAII, Bangalore, spearheaded the mission for the mass multiplication and supplying these parasitoids to the farmers in all southern states and Maharashtra, which lead to the successful biological control of papaya mealybug on all the crops.