The National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII) organized a National Consultation on the classical biological control of the papaya mealybug Paracoccus marginatus on 30th October, 2010 at Bangalore. The papaya mealybug is causing severe problems in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and parts of Tripura. Apart from attacking papaya this mealybug damages several other crops like pigeonpea, sunflower, tapioca, okra, tomato, brinjal, cocoa and mulberry as well as weeds like parthenium and trees like teak, plumeria and thespesia. Chemical control is ineffective, increase the cost of protection and create environmental hazards. The NBAII has launched a nationwide programme on classical biological control of the papaya mealybug using natural enemies. Three species of exotic parasitoids namely Acerophagous papayae, Anagyrus loecki and Pseudleptomastix mexicana specific to papaya mealybug imported with the help of USDA-APHIS have been mass produced and distributed to Krishi Vigyana Kendras, CIPM centres, Entomologists of State Agricultural Universities of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tripura as well as horticultural universities of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The scientists of AICRP on biological control programme have also received the parasitoids. Intensive training has been imparted to 90 entomologists/subject matter specialists of these organisations on the mass production, field release and conservation of the parasitoids. The parasitoid A.papayae has now multiplied in enormous numbers and established well in the farmers fields in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The parasitoids collected from these fields are now being distributed to fields of other farmers and the parasitoids are now spreading to nearby areas. Wherever the parasitoids are now seen, the papaya mealybug attack is reduced significantly. It is anticipated that within the next six to 12 months, the pest problem will be solved in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner on a long term.
In the national consultation organised under the Chairmanship of Dr. T.P. Rajendran, Asst. Director General (Plant protection), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi and co-chairmanship of Dr. R.J. Rabindra, Director, NBAII, Bangalore, a strategic plan for rapid production, distribution and conservation of the parasitoids was developed involving KVKs, CIPM centres of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, New Delhi, SAUs, ICAR institutes, Central Silk Board, KFRI, IFGTB, industry like Sago Serve and Senthil Papain and food Products Limited and voluntary organisations like Safety Brigade.
Dr. R.J. Rabindra released the parasitoids to the representatives of the KVKs, CIPM centres of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, State Agricultural Universities, Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Sago Corporation of Tamil Nadu and farmers. Two folders on the biological control of papaya mealybug one in English published by NBAII and another in Tamil published by TNAU jointly with ICAR were released.
Source: NBAII, Bangalore