CABI Strengthens Partnerships for Development of Biological Control Agents to Control Crop Pests in Chile

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25 April 2024, Chile: CABI scientists Dr Yelitza Colmenarez and Dr Richard Shaw have paid a visit to the Agricultural Research Institute (INIA) in Chile to help strengthen partnerships for the development of biological control agents to help control crop pests in the country.

Dr Colmenarez, CABI’s Centre Director, Brazil, and Dr Shaw, Senior Regional Director, Europe and The Americas at CABI, toured the INIA facilities in Chillán and learnt more about the Bank of Microbial Genetic Resources and the work of the National Center for Bioinputs.

Chile is a valued Member Country of CABI and INIA is the National Implementing Agency for Chile.

Benefits of using biological control agents

Both CABI and the INIA are acutely aware of the benefits of using biological control agents to fight a range of crop pests – particularly the introduction of new pests – that threaten food security in Chile and the Neotropical region.

These include, due to the intensification of trade between Latin American and Caribbean countries with other regions, among other factors including climate change, for example, many invasive species.

Examples of these are the psyllids Diaphorina citri and Aleurocanthus woglumi which cause damage to citrus fruits, spotted wing drosophila Drosophila suzukii and the cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera.

Despite the quarantine strategies and procedures put in place to reinforce phytosanitary surveillance and prevent their entry, new pests of recent introduction in the region are reported every year.

Sustainable agricultural production

Biological control, as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy, play an important role in fighting pests and increasing the level of sustainable agricultural production in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Javier Chilian, the Regional Director of INIA as well as National Directors of the organization, Germán Holmberg, and Eduardo Tapia, received Dr Colmenarez and Dr Shaw. Lorena Barra also welcomed them as CABI Representative in Chile.

Ms Barra highlighted the search for new links between both institutions, which consider the food and nutritional security of Chile and its economic development amid the challenges posed by climate change and the need to protect its biodiversity.

She also stressed the importance of incorporating gender and youth into the solutions to strengthen Chile’s resilience and capacity to adapt and strengthen its agricultural industry and moves to make it more sustainable.

Dr Colmenarez said, “It is a pleasant surprise to see all the development and growth in bioinput matters to promote the use of sustainable technologies for agriculture.”

Development and use of native Chilian microorganisms

She added that the result of scientific collaboration between the INIA and institutions such as CABI is allowing for the development and use of native Chilian microorganisms used as bioproducts or biostimulants in agriculture, intended to promote the growth of plants in a more sustainable way.

Mr Javier Chilian added that the use of these microorganisms is being used to promote agricultural and forestry development, especially in degraded areas, where deforestation strategies are being applied to also help conserve soils.

Dr Colmenarez and Dr Shaw were shown how the INIA entomology laboratory, led by researcher Luis Devotto, has been searching for native insects to control Drosophila suzukii, an insect that, since its detection in Chile in 2017, has been a threat to the country’s fruit sector.

Protect livelihoods and food security

Dr Shaw said, “The work carried out at INIA is a great opportunity to collaborate, share ideas, material and identification techniques, which lays the foundations for closer collaboration between both organizations.”

Dr Colmenarez added that helping farmers become more familiar with the use of natural enemies, allowing an efficient integration of biological control with other control methods, could improve its application, increase yields, reduce losses to invasive pests and protect their livelihoods and food security.

Also Read: TERI and Chambal Fertilisers Introduce ‘Uttam Pranaam’: A revolutionary step towards Sustainable Farming

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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