Mar 13, 2017

Crop Protection WCRC WCRC1
Introduction                                                                Back to Table of contents

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen;  it is a great honour to be asked to give this keynote address on Integrated Pest Management in Cotton (IPM) to this distinguished and expert audience representing such a large number of countries and such a wide range of cotton production systems.

In contrast to many in the audience I have not worked full-time as a cotton scientist since my former employers, the Cotton Research Corporation, ceased operations in 1975.  Before that I worked as a cotton entomologist in Northern Nigeria and Zambia and learnt at first hand how difficult it can be to ensure that the benefits of agricultural research reach the farmer so that he could make use of this research to improve his standard of living.  In 1976 I joined the Centre for Overseas Pest Research, part of the UK Overseas Development Administration (ODA) and now subsumed in the Natural Resources Institute (NRI).  Over the past 17 years I have learnt how difficult it is to achieve an impact on agricultural development through aid programmes, but at least this employment has given me an opportunity to observe, and in some cases, through our aid projects, become directly involved with cotton production in a number of countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East...


  1. Integrated Pest Management systems for cotton need to include (a) preventive measures to maintain pest populations below economically damaging levels, (b) control measures to deal with pest populations that do reach threshold levels.

  2. Given the fact that in most cotton growing systems pesticide applications are usually required, then the starting point for introducing IPM or improving control strategies must be improved pesticide management.

  3. It is becoming essential that pesticide management in cotton includes resistance management strategies. Resistance now represents the biggest threat to sustainable cotton production.

  4. New technologies, including Bt, genetically engineered cotton, microbials, pheromones, biological control, which can be incorporated in pest management systems to reduce selection pressure on conventional chemical pesticides and preserve the valuable resource represented by biochemical target sites in pest organisms, need to be researched and developed as a matter of urgency.

  5. Judicious use of pesticides on a need basis, is an important component of cotton IPM; developing practical methods of pest monitoring to establish that need is difficult and is a priority for biological and social science research.

  6. Many potentially useful new technologies for cotton IPM systems, including pheromones, certain agronomic practices, resistance management strategies, will only be effective if applied over large areas, which in developing country cotton production will require the cooperation of groups of farmers. The social constraints to bringing this cooperation about needs research by social scientists.

  7. Sustainable cotton production incorporating the principles of IPM requires political and economic stability and a continuously developing and evolving supporting infrastructure including research, advice, input supply and marketing.

  8. Public sector involvement in providing this support is likely to decline, for reasons of political philosophy and economics. New ways of providing the support from the private sector, including agrochemical companies, cotton purchasing and processing companies, NGOs and private consultants, need to be identified and developed to meet the needs of small scale farmers.

  9. The development of cotton IPM systems requires a feed-back of information on uptake of IPM technologies by farmers and measures of effectiveness and cost. This information is generally lacking in the IPM literature which is focussed on the output of researchers, not on the impact of their recommendations.

  10. The first responsibility of the cotton scientist is to meet the needs of cotton farmers. Although the broader requirements of society at large for cotton production systems that are not damaging to health and the environment must be taken into account, their achievement will increasingly be driven by farmers' own targets for economic and sustainable production in a competitive environment.

  11. Constraints which prevent farmers benefitting from scientific research need to be removed. The search for "appropriateness" in research will not provide the solution to the problem of non-adoption of new technologies.

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