Release of an Exotic Parasitoid Wasp to Tackle Invasive Cassava Mealybug Menace in India

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16 March 2022, New Delhi: During the April, 2020, an alien invasive pest, Cassava Mealybug with extreme potential to cause huge crop damage and losses was noticed in Kerala. It was identified, reported and pest alerted by the ICAR-National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources, Bengaluru, Karnataka during May, 2020. Thereafter, its spread and infestation on tapioca was noticed in the entire Tamil Nadu and Kerala with severe tuber yield reduction.

The Cassava Mealybug is one of the most destructive pests of tapioca in the world and native to South America. To tackle the current situation, the scientists from the ICAR-NBAIR, Bengaluru have imported the beneficial parasitoid, Anagyrus lopezi (Encyrtidae: Hymenoptera) from  International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with its Sub-Centre at Republic of Benin through the International Cooperation ably facilitated by Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General (ICAR); Dr. Ravi Prakash, Plant Protection Advisor, DPPQ&S;   Dr. Tilak Raj Sharma, Deputy Director General (Crop Science), ICAR and Dr. S.C. Dubey, ADG (PP&B), ICAR.

The parasitoids (Government of India Import Permit No. – 17/2020-21 dated 29.10.2020) was received at Bengaluru on 13th August, 2021.

The mandatory quarantine studies on biology, safety and host specificity of the A. lopezi was carried out at the ICAR-NBAIR QC-2 Quarantine Facility to ensure its non-target impacts. The mass production and field release protocol of the parasitoid wasp was optimized in the small and large scale setup on cassava mealybug colonies.

The Bureau organized the Trainer’s Training Programmes in 4 Batches and trained the staff members of the State Agricultural Universities, State Horticulture Departments and Krishi Vigyan Kendras on mass production and field release techniques of A. lopezi.

The first field release programme of the parasitoids and its distribution to the cassava farmers was organized by the ICAR-NBAIR in collaboration with the Tapioca and Castor Research Station, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Yethapur, Salem District, Tamil Nadu today.

Shri A.K.P.  Chinraj, Member of Parliament, Namakkal Constituency; Directors & Senior Officials of ICAR; Vice-Chancellors of State Agricultural Universities and State Agricultural Departments also participated in the event.

About 300 tapioca farmers from 6 Districts of Tamil Nadu participated in the event.

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