Pakistan agricultural centre partners with UK to fight invasive weeds

An effort by both the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) of Pakistan and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to tackle Parthenium is in place. The highly invasive weed species is prevalent and spreading in Pakistan. Sponsored by the DFID, the weed control service is targeted at combating the scourge of the highly invasive weed in Pakistan. There was a 2-day workshop in Islamabad in which there was the unveiling of a comprehensive Parthenium Weed Management Action Plan. The primary objectives of the workshop were to share experiences and information about the presence and effects of Parthenium in Pakistan. Considering that short, medium and long term, a comprehensive action plan to be used at the outset was drafted.  While the action plan will stress on fortifying links between stake to set priorities, it has three stages of research, development and communication and will list key activities and institutions involved. The entire programme has a focus to develop a Weed Management Decision Guide (WMDG) which will allow utilising of best practices for the timely detention of the invasive plant, it’s prevention and control.

 Parthenium can be controlled by chemicals but those are not environmental-friendly. The help of CABI comes in handy here, where it helps farmers. Farmers are offered an integrated and sustained framework that is essential in addressing the Parthenium invasive weed issue. Besides just teaching the farmers how to control the invasive weed, there is an outreach plan to ensure farmers and the public as well become aware of the destructive and dangerous weed. CABI has objectives and some important ones are to protect and restore the agriculture sector, refurbish the natural ecosystem and improve health. Now with the assistance of the UK’s DFID, the CABI’s objectives will be achieved. The two stakeholders will be working towards a Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS)-funded action on Invasives initiative. The initiative is aimed to help enhance the livelihoods of around 50 million poor rural households in Asia and Africa affected by invasive species. It is estimated that the invasive species cost the world’s economy over $1.4 trillion each year with the burden bared by most susceptible and poorest people. Every year Southeast Asia incurs at least $33 billion as the expenses for dealing with invasive species. This reduces the regions GDP by 5%.

 Parthenium which has a beautiful appearance when nestled within its white flowers is often used on daily occasions as well as decorations for events. The invasive plant manipulates the ecology, affects crop production by up to 40% and invades forests. Parthenium aggressive invasive nature hinders the development of other plants.This invasive plant is dangerous to both people and livestock. Of course, people use it for different purposes but the Parthenium causes rigorous allergies to humans. The seeds which can spread through the air can cause eye irritation, asthma, eczema and throat infections. The weed also poses serious threats to livestock where it causes digestive problems and allergies in the animals. Certainly, the weed control service efforts by all parties will be greatly helpful to the agricultural sector of Pakistan.

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