Increased agricultural productivity and production can be achieved through adaptation and use of new technologies such as biopesticides, a senior government official has said.
This came to the fore today at a workshop on targeted interventions towards enhancing the registration and use of biopesticides in Zimbabwe that is running from 25 to 26 October 2023 in Harare.
In his address, while officially opening the workshop, Dr. Dumisani Kutywayo, the Chief Director of Agriculture Research, Innovation and Development (Research and Specialist Services) in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development said the use of new technologies such as biopesticides increases agricultural production and productivity.
“As you are aware, biopesticides are pest management tools from natural resources that are an important component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). On-farm crop losses, due to pests are conservatively estimated at 33 percent in most tropical developing countries with further losses occurring during harvesting, transportation, and storage.
“The Government of Zimbabwe through its mantra ‘Towards a Prosperous & Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030 is working tirelessly to boost agricultural production and productivity. This is expected to result in increased food security and agricultural exports thereby improving rural livelihoods and alleviating poverty. In pursuit of these goals, the government has disseminated appropriate technologies and continues to undertake research to enhance food production through the improvement of germplasm and pest management in collaboration with several local and international research institutions,” Dr. Kutywayo said.
He said research on biopesticides has advanced with the discovery of fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes capable of suppressing important pests of crops. Some of these products are currently under trial whilst some have already been commercialized.
“Biopesticides are, therefore, options for pest management. If we could abide by the regulations put in place and embrace wider usage that would be beneficial. Biopesticides are derived from biological sources, exist in nature, and are comparatively benign to the environment.
“However, what is natural does not always translate to less risk to non-target organisms, vertebrates, or humans. If they have the intrinsic ability to kill or suppress pests, they also have the potential to suffer the same fate as chemical pesticides, such as the development of pest resistance, concerns about consumer safety, and environmental pollution. Biopesticides may, therefore, not be accorded a clean bill of finding during registration but should continue to be evaluated based on robust science to justify their deployment in pest management.”
Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA), Dr. Deckster Savadye said under the agricultural sector, the NBA has been monitoring and registering agricultural biotechnology products such as biopesticides.
Dr. Deckster Savadye
He said the two national regulating authorities for biopesticides are the National Biotechnology Authority and the Fertilizer, Farm Feeds and Remedies Institute. The Kutsaga Research Station, on the other hand, regulates the use of biopesticides in the tobacco industry.
“It is within these common grounds that this workshop was organised. The objective of this workshop are to educate key stakeholders on the benefits of using biopesticides; create awareness of existing regulations for biopesticides; and create awareness of the need to adopt the Harmonized Biopesticide Guidelines for the SADC Region,” Dr. Savadye said.
The workshop is being held under the auspices of the Southern Africa Biopesticides Project titled, Enhancing Trade Through Regulatory Harmonisation and Biopesticide Based Residue Mitigation in the SADC Region. The project is being supported by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF).
Dr. Dennis Obonyo Ndolo, the Group Leader of the Biopesticides International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology demonstrated the efficacy of the use of biopesticides and said they can be used together with chemical pesticides to increase agricultural production and productivity.