South Punjab Agriculture Secretary Saqib Ali Ateel has stressed that pesticides will be applied only at the economic threshold level to kill whitefly and other enemy pests.

However, he said that only those pesticides would be selected that would not kill friendly pests for a profitable cotton cultivation in the upcoming season.

Presiding over a meeting with representatives of pesticides’ companies on Tuesday, Ateel said Punjab Minister for Agriculture Syed Hussain Jahanian Gardezi had made it clear in a planning committee meeting last Monday that biological control techniques should be applied to counter enemy pests in the next cotton season and pesticides should be applied only as a last resort ie at the economic threshold level.

The agriculture minister has formed a committee, led by Punjab Agricultural Research Board (PARB) Chief Executive Dr Abid Mahmood, to promote and strategise the application of biological control techniques to lessen the cost of cotton cultivation. Ateel added that cotton covered most of the crop area in south Punjab and the agriculture department would issue recommendations in light of the advisory committee decisions for better crop care.

He apprised pesticides’ companies and dealers of rules, saying that every distributor should have an ISO certified laboratory and an entomologist so that any product they launched to kill whitefly or any other enemy pest could be analysed before marketing.

He forbade distributors from keeping pesticides in open bags and instructed them that they should be properly packed with a label carrying names of only those pests that they would kill.

Otherwise, their licence would be cancelled, he warned, adding that only those distributors would be allowed whose pesticides would be effective against pests. He ordered officials to ensure that the distributors stock pesticides under the standard operating procedures (SOPs). He directed pesticides’ inspectors to ensure the enforcement of SOPs.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2021.

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