Production of safe food, protection of environment, doubling farmers’ income and enhancing exports
are our national priorities in agriculture. Agricultural production is often challenged by insects,
diseases, weeds, nematodes and vertebrates affecting food, livelihood, and socio-economic and
environmental security. Pest problems emerge and undergo spatio-temporal changes due to climate
change, invasion, changing production practices, increased virulence, resistance, resurgence and
secondary outbreak through ecological adaptations and evolution. While loss of crop yield and quality
of produce are direct effect of pests at farm level, indirect losses through toxic contaminations of
produce during production, storage, ripening or transit have socio-economic-environmental implications
affecting both farmers and consumers, and all ecosystem services including organisms in the food web and pollinators.
Judicious use of pesticides is a necessity in crop protection, however, instant market availability
and the visible effect of reduction in pest incidence following the use of synthetic pesticides lead farmers
to follow ‘pesticide treadmill’ resulting in occupational and environmental hazards in addition to the marketed
commodities having chemical residues that pose a threat to food safety of consumers. India has adopted the
integrated pest management (IPM) as ‘National Policy’ for crop protection since 1985 and a lot of efforts have
been and are being made to promote its adoption by farmers. However, its adoption by end users is often perceived
to be not satisfactory owing to several factors including lack of awareness, unavailability of non-chemical inputs,
lack of holistic pest management modules, insufficient convergence among crop protection agencies etc.
The ICAR-National Research Centre for Integrated Pest Management (NCIPM) established in 1988
with the mission of maximizing crop yields through minimization of yield losses due
to pests across major agricultural and horticultural crops in tune with the emerging
problems across the country has been validating and refining IPM strategies and practices.
The centre envisages larger role in making IPM more effective through multidisciplinary
integration including use of information and communication technology (ICT),
farmer participatory research, training of extension functionaries and education
of farmers with focus on farmers’ economy, crop ecology and production systems sustainability.
Pre-season pest management practices, guidance in selection of crops and cultivars suited to soils,
timely planting, continuous monitoring of crop health and pest status, conservation practices for
natural enemies, and timely use of quality bio rational inputs integrated with location specific
crop production practices form the basis of IPM programmes for cereals, pulses, commercial crops,
oilseeds, fruits, plantations and vegetables including protected cultivation. Only need based use of
synthetic chemicals with label claims at recommended dosages and dilutions is promoted as curative measure.
Real time pest management augmented with ICT based dissemination of advisories that advocate right selection
of pest management tactics and supply of critical IPM inputs has successfully demonstrated the effectiveness
of IPM on area wide basis with reduction in pesticide application frequency and accrual of increased net returns to farmers.
ICAR-NCIPM is evolving steadily with the paradigm changes in agriculture and allied sciences with efficient integration of
ICT for surveillance of insects and diseases across states covering important crops including invasive pests.
Assessment of the impact of climate change on insects and diseases of major crops along with development of
weather based pest forecasts based on ground and satellite based pest surveillance are being addressed during
the current decade for improving climate resilience in crop protection. Standalone mobile apps on pest management
information system (PMIS), pesticide calculations and IPM of crops have added value to the digital dissemination of IPM.
Centre is continuously coordinating with ATARIs of different agro climatic zones to make the knowledge, skills and
critical inputs of IPM available at the door steps of farmers. Use of artificial intelligence (AI) for pest diagnostics
and forecasting, entrepreneurship development of farm youth and women for mass production of bio agents, and expanding the
IPM network with effective collaboration with ICAR crop institutes, AICRPs, KVKs, State Agriculture Departments and
agricultural input agencies are on the agenda of ICAR-NCIPM so as to increase speed and area under IPM in the country.