Red Palm Weevil biological control, The first environmentally friendly project in the region

Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation,
hosts Dr. Yahya Bakour, by organizing a virtual lecture on
With the attendance of 110 experts and specialists, and representing 15 countries.

Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation’s General Secretariat, organized a virtual lecture on “A successful journey in the development of the date palm cultivations and production sector”, presented by Dr. Yahya Bakour, Secretary General of the Arab Agricultural Engineers Union, on Monday 25th of October, 2021, with the attendance of 110 experts and specialists representing 15 Arab countries. Dr. Abdelouahhab Zaid, Award’s Secretary General, noted that this virtual lecture comes under the directives of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, Chairman of the Award’s Board of Trustees, and within the Award’s framework and commitment to spread the scientific knowledge and awareness specialized in date palm cultivation and agricultural innovation.

From his side, Dr. Yahya Bakour presented the history of launching the first Arab scientific project to combat Red Palm Weevil, during his presidency period to the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, in 1992, under the directives of H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Raqabani, former Minister of Agriculture in the United Arab Emirates, where the organization formed a team of experts and technicians to collect data on the problem, and a document on the Red Palm Weevil biological control project in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries was prepared, under the supervision of the organization and in cooperation with the national program in each country, as the project was financed by the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB).The lecturer also reviewed the difficulties and challenges encountered by the project, stressing that the project was not hampered by any fundamental challenges affecting its achievement of the desired goals.

Dr. Bakour, then also highlighted the fact that although the program faced several obstacles, this did not affect achieving its set goals, where the committee emphasized the success of the project in developing effective biological control technologies to combat the Red Palm Weevil, establishing well prepared laboratories, training technicians in the region, enhancing awareness for the adoption of biological control technologies. Where the achievements made by the project in the field of developing modern applied local technologies for biological control are highly appreciated, as the project’s team is now able to determine the integrated control program required to control the Red Palm Weevil, by following and developing the technologies adopted by the project.

Dr. Bakour then presented a set of recommendations, the most important of which are:

 First: We are today presenting the first environmentally friendly project dedicated to the biological combat of Red Palm Weevil, the results of its research in the laboratory and in the field proved the discovery of several local pathogens of the insect in its various stages, especially the fungus Puffera bazian and nematodes, in addition to predators of the insect’s eggs and larvae, which contribute to achieving a set of goals. Objectives to demonstrate the feasibility of a wide application of the use of local pathogens to get rid of this insect.
 Second: Given the importance of optimizing the results of the first project in the world, which succeeded in discovering local pathogens in the vital control of the Red Palm Weevil, the necessity urges the consolidation of benefiting from its results, and the expansion of studies and field applications to reach the desired goal, and therefore:
 Third: We recommend preparing for second phase of the Red Palm Weevil biological control project, relying on the team of experts from the first phase of the project, as much as possible. Where we suggest that this phase to be under the supervision of Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation, and the participation of ICARDA, AOAD, and ACSAD, and with funding from development finance institutions, as the second phase tasks of the project will be focusing on the following objectives:
1. Extensive cultivation of mushrooms: to secure the requirements for spraying date palm trees with prescribed mushrooms, or polluting males and releasing them. This may require the development of a pollination mechanism.
2. Continuing the studies and applications regarding activating the utilization of insect-pathogenic nematodes or their larvae.
3. Completion of studies and research on the parasitoids of the Red Palm Weevil, in order to propagate and release them.
4. Copious production of males to pollute and release them.
5. Preparing an integrated program for biological control of the Red Palm Weevil.
6. Strengthening relations with international training institutions and research centers.
Dr. Yahya Bakour, then concluded the lecture by highlighting the great role played by the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation in supporting and developing the date palm cultivation sector and the date production, through the organizing of Jordan International Date Palm Festival, Sudan International Date Palm Festival, and Egypt International Date Palm Festival and the accompanying activities and events. Which actively contributed to the increase of the reputation of the Arab dates and the volume of exports, in addition to the series of international conferences organized by the Award’s General Secretariat.

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