A catalogue of the plant pests and diseases of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, and sustainable ways of confronting them

As farmers well know, plants are forever subject to threats like insects, fungi, viruses and weeds. How can plant pests and diseases be treated effectively, without harm to the natural environment in which they grow?

Farmers and plant production and health practitioners have a new reference book to turn to: Integrated pest management of major pests and diseases in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus – published by FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.

The publication is a summary of essential information about threats to plant health, and environmentally sustainable control methods such as Integrated Pest management. The IPM approach, long promoted by FAO, looks at the ecosystem as a whole and seeks to minimize agriculture’s impact.

“The overuse of pesticides by smallholder farmers is threatening farm activities, public health, nutrition and the overall future of agriculture,” said FAO agricultural officer Avetik Nersisyan.

“Crop losses to insects can often be kept to an acceptable minimum by deploying resistant varieties, conserving predators and managing crop nutrient levels to reduce insect reproduction,” Nersisyan said. “Lower-risk synthetic pesticides should be used for targeted control, in the right quantity and at the right time.”

The book contains information and images of 26 different plant pests and 23 diseases typically found in Eastern European and Caucasus countries. Descriptions and images identify the most harmful pests for fruit and vegetable plants. Readers will also learn about the biology, monitoring methods, and the most environmentally friendly prevention and control methods.

Integrated Pest Management strategies are specific to crops, countries, regions and location, and also depend on local agricultural practices. While the book is an important beginning, proper application of Integrated Pest Management requires training.

“This approach still requires sufficient training and technical support to farmers to ensure a good level of knowledge that can be used in well managed farming systems,” Nersisyan said.

It is hoped that further education of farmers will trigger a move towards more ecological, integrated agriculture in the Europe and Central Asia region.

Already available in English and Russian versions, that are already available, the manual will be translated into Armenian, Georgian and Romanian languages, and hard copies will be distributed directly to farmers in three countries.