Agricultural scientists yesterday stressed the urgent need for conducting a survey to determine the extent of damage to tomato production, caused by an outbreak of a pest in the country.
They identified the pest named Tuta absoluta, a leaf miner of tomatoes, in a field at Chaklarhat village of Tunuirhat in Panchagarh in May.
Finding the insect to be seriously harmful to tomato production in the infested field, they emphasised containing its spread at an early stage; or else it might cause even greater harms to the potato production.
The experts said these at a seminar on "Integrated Management of Tuta absoluta, South American Tomato leafminer" organised by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari) and Seed Industries Association of Bangladesh (SIAB) with support from the USAID's Agricultural Value Chains Project in Bangladesh in the capital's at BARC auditorium.
When giving a presentation, M Shahadath Hossain, a senior scientific officer of Bari's entomology section, said the country's farmers are facing difficulties in producing tomatoes as they are fighting against at least 10 types of pests.
It is urgent to prevent the pest from spreading, as farmers in India already faced its attacks in 2014, stressed the scientists.
"…It can rapidly disperse... and might damage tomato production by 80 to 100 percent," Shahadath observed.
The Bari scientist suggested taking immediate measures such as conducting surveys, sowing healthy seedlings, and using pest exclusion nets and pesticides made of neem (margosa).
"The pest cannot be destroyed, but employing integrated pest management practices…can lead to an effective control," mentioned R Muniappan, director of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of the office of International Research, Education and Development at Virginia Tech.
"With the proactive actions taken by IPM Innovation Lab, we hope to significantly reduce the economic loss caused by this pest in Nepal and Bangladesh as well as in the rest of Asia and the United States," he said, when addressing the seminar.