CABI’s new quarantine facility creates greater capacity for Parthenium research in Pakistan

Parthenium Field Research and Sampling.

CABI has increased its capacity to fight the highly invasive and destructive Parthenium weed by opening a new quarantine facility at its Central and Western Asia (CWA) offices and laboratories in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Parthenium is an aggressive invasive weed which can have a devastating impact on pasturing fields, crops, and forests. In Ethiopia for example, sorghum yields were reduced by as much as 97 percent, while in India Parthenium infestations have resulted in yield losses of up to 40 percent in several crops.

The new quarantine facility, working under the auspices of the Action on Invasives programme, will allow scientists to investigate a range of biological control options including the stem boring weevil Listronotus setosipennis. This is in addition to the agent Zygogramma bicolorata which is currently being mass reared by CABI CWA to evaluate the impact on Parthenium weed.

The quarantine facility compliments the comprehensive national action plan, launched in October with a focus on research, development and communication, by adding greater capacity for scientists to investigate the potential for existing and new biological controls prior to release in the field.

Dr Babar Bajwa, Regional Director – CABI CWA, said, “Since Parthenium was accidentally released into several countries, including Pakistan, is has become a serious threat to food security, biodiversity and human health.

“The new quarantine facility is a great stride towards helping prevent the growth and spread of this destructive pest. It is vital that we investigate and implement effective biological controls to manage Parthenium now and other invasive species in future.”

Invasive species are estimated to cost the global economy over US $1.4 trillion annually. They disregard national borders and, when unmanaged, undermine investments in development. Invasive pests and diseases also significantly affect the livelihoods of vulnerable rural communities who depend on natural resources and ecosystem health for their survival.

The Action on Invasives programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), Netherlands, will help improve the livelihoods of 50 million poor rural households who are affected by invasive species in Africa and Asia.

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