Chinese, Pakistani scientists join hands for solutions to citrus diseases and insect pests

China Economic Net

Guangzhou: Chinese and Pakistani scientists are collaborating to develop biological control measures to enhance the quality and quantity of citrus fruits in Pakistan.

To this end, a research centre was launched in the two countries in 2018 to jointly explore green and sustainable solutions to the growing prevalence of citrus diseases across the South Asian nation.

Prof Dr Qiu Baoli (L), director of the China-Pakistan citrus pest management centre, in discussion with Pakistani researchers [Photo provided to CEN]

Speaking to China Economic Net (CEN), Prof Dr Qiu Baoli and Prof Dr Shaukat Ali, director and deputy director of the China-Pakistan citrus pest management centre, said that while chemical measures can provide quick responses to citrus disease outbreaks, they also increase the resistance of pests against pesticides, posing grave environmental and health threats.

The researcher told CEN reporter that the centre, initiated by South China Agricultural University and Sargodha University, has undertaken four strands of research work to produce environmentally friendly solutions.

The first line of research, Dr Qiu and Dr Ali noted, focuses on the use of “lure and kill” technology to dispel pests. For example, the researchers have investigated how different types of traps and lures will affect the efficacy of capturing pests in citrus orchards across six citrus-producing Pakistani cities.

Dr Qiu told CEN that the researchers have also been developing technologies to breed parasitic wasps and predatory insects, which are natural enemies for citrus pests. “So far, we have discovered 22 new species of predatory insects and reported 7 new genera and 2 new subgenera,” he noted.

In addition, the centre has been researching biological pesticides for emergency control. “We aim to develop commercial formulas for entomopathogenic fungi targeting citrus pests and evaluate their toxicity under laboratory and field conditions,” Dr Ali told CEN, adding that strides have been made in the investigation and evaluation of Pakistan’s entomopathogenic fungal resources.

Dr Qiu noted, “To effectively combat the pests, we will also develop a comprehensive pest management approach that combines various pest control strategies.” The technology mix will be tested in citrus orchards in Pakistan for demonstration and promotion.