Parthenium hysterophorus is a highly destructive weed which has invaded and is widespread in around 48 countries in Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. In Pakistan the weed is spreading rapidly westwards and southwards across both rural and urban landscapes, affecting native ecology and harming agriculture.
Invasive species pose a serious threat to food security, biodiversity, water resources, human and animal health, and economic development. It is widely acknowledged that integrated control is the most effective strategy in managing invasive plants where it involves the use of herbicides, manual or mechanical control, and biological control agents in an integrated way. Last month, a short course on invasion biology and classical biological control of weeds was delivered at CABI in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the highly invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorusis 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.
In Pakistan, it has been reported that this weed is present almost everywhere, but the dilemma is that the general public have little to no knowledge about its harmful impacts. Keeping in view these facts, CABI in Pakistan under the Action on Invasives programme, recently launched an awareness drive in the rural areas of the Sheikhupura district to spread information on the negative impacts of this alien weed among more remote communities.
“Usually I’m looking up at the stars but with this project, I’m back down to earth” quips Dr Rene Breton, Director of Research at the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. By combining the skills of a geographer, ecologist, social scientist, entomologist, astrophysicist, biologist, and electrical engineer, the joint CABI and University of Manchester team aim to capitalise on the unique skills from each subject to tackle the highly invasive weed Parthenium in Pakistan using remote sensing.
A training session was recently organized by CABI in Pakistan on the identification and management of Parthenium Hysterophorous to a variety of stakeholders. These activities were part of the Parthenium awareness campaign which CABI has launched under Action on Invasives, in the Sheikhupura district (Pilot district), Punjab focusing particularly on rural communities.