In Pakistan, the highly invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus is not only a problem for rural areas, in fact it is of equal concern for urban residents as well. Known locally as ‘Gajar Booti’, Parthenium is a major pest of both cropped and non-cropped areas of Pakistan, causing severe economic, environmental, and health-related problems.
As well as raising awareness of Parthenium in rural communities, CABI Pakistan has also run campaigns in the city of Islamabad. With Parthenium widespread across both landscapes, ensuring both farmers and the general public are aware of its dangers is key. Parthenium is highly allergenic and causes health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, dermatitis, eye irritation, and rhinitis. However, the dilemma is that people are unaware of its dangerous impacts. To raise awareness with city residents, stalls were set up in two of Islamabad’s major parks, Jasmine Garden and Jinnah Garden. Since many people and families visit these parks, the stalls aimed to target the maximum number of people and raise awareness about Parthenium. Along with CABI staff, PhD students from University of Agriculture in Faisalabad also worked at the stall. Each of the stalls was equipped with an LED TV (on which a CABI documentary on Parthenium was shown) and leaflets and brochures were available for people to take.
People stopping by the stalls would get first-hand information from those manning the stands and many passers-by would pause to watch the documentary to get knowledge and information about Parthenium. The majority of people were surprised to learn about the negative impacts of Parthenium and although most were of the view that they had seen the weed in their surroundings, they were totally unaware that it was so harmful, not only for human health also for the environment.
In Pakistan, CABI’s ‘root it out’ campaign for Parthenium has been encouraging the safe disposal of Parthenium by pulling it out of the ground and this message has been shared with both the rural and urban communities. “After getting some know-how on Parthenium, I immediately called my gardeners to tell them to root out all the Parthenium from the surroundings,” commented one of the people who came to the stall, “I will also share this very important information with other residents as well.” CABI also emphasized the importance of taking safety measures by wearing gloves and masks before rooting out Parthenium, to prevent allergic reactions.
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CABI recently organized a two-day training and planning workshop for its university partners on “Awareness and Management of Parthenium” in Islamabad. The workshop was attended by key stakeholders and post-graduate students of partner universities such as the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi and University of Sargodha.
22 October 2019