To feed the overgrowing population world around, particularly in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America it is crying need to increase the food production and this increase has to be come from the increased yields of major crops. Notorious insect pests from several insect orders are the major cause of damage to the world’s commercially important agricultural crops. One practical means of achieving greater yields is to minimize the pest associated losses, which are estimated at 14% of the total agricultural production: 52% in wheat, 83% in rice, 59% in maize, 74% in potato, 58% in soybean and 84% in cotton (Oerke et al.
1994). Insect’s not only cause direct loss to the agricultural produce, but also indirectly due to their role as vectors of various plant pathogens. In addition to direct losses caused by insects, there are additional costs in the form of pesticides applied for pest control, currently valued at US $10 billion annually. In crops such as pearl millet, sorghum, pigeon pea, chickpea and groundnut grown under subsistence farming conditions in the semi-arid tropics, the losses due to various biotic and abiotic factors have been estimated to be over US $ 2 billion annually (ICRISAT, 1992).
With increasing demand for effective control of insect pests coupled with environmental sustainability, farmers and disease vector control authorities are facing enormous challenges to, respectively, maintain food production and protect human health. Current strategies aimed at reducing crop losses rely primarily on chemical pesticides. Pest control has long relied upon insecticides, which can be very effective, but continued reliance is hampered by several factors.
Concerns over their potential impacts on the environment and human health have led to implementation of restrictions on residues on food, the number of sprays per season, implementation of spray-free pre-harvest periods, and withdrawal from the market of some modes of action. Massive application of pesticides results in adverse effects on the beneficial organisms leaves pesticide residues in the food and results in environmental pollution. Although the benefits to agriculture from the pesticide use to prevent insect associated losses cannot be overlooked, but there is a greater need to develop alternative or additional technologies, which would allow a rational use of pesticides, and provide adequate crop protection for sustainable food, feed and fiber production in the future.
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