Dangerous bug attacks date trees

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STAFF REPORT IBD: A dangerous date palm sap-sucking insect known as Dubas bug – locally known as Sherrgo – is spreading in Balochistan, affecting the overall date production and exports.
“The bug had first been detected in 1999 in Balochistan’s Panjgur district,” an official at the National Agricultural Research Council (NARC) told the media.
Pakistan produces 540,000 tons of dates every year, of which 280 million tons are produced in Sindh while 175,000 tons are produced in Balochistan. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa produces 50,000 tons and Punjab 39,000 tons.
“There are 300 varieties of dates in Pakistan,” the official said.
Deputy Director Agriculture Extension, Balochistan, Dr Arif Shah said that biotic stress, especially in the form of Dubas bug, is one of the major reasons for the decrease in date production in Balochistan.
“Biological control is one of the sustainable methods to curb the spread of the pest,” he said.
He said that since 1999, the federal and provincial plant protection departments had spent million of rupees for pesticide applications. “But excessive use of chemical pesticides is intensifying the problem.
The bug has now spread to major date growing areas,” he said.


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