India: Pesticide poisoning



Suspected pesticide poisoning in India highlights importance of PPE

On 5th October, the BBC reported that at least 50 farmers have died in the western state of Maharashtra, India, since July, due to suspected accidental pesticide poisoning (see the full article on the BBC website).

Nineteen of these deaths were reported from Yavatmal district, a major cotton growing area, where farmers use a variety of cotton which is meant to be resistant to bollworms. However, this year, despite use of this variety, crop damage caused by bollworm has been highly significant, leading to an increase in the use of pesticides.

Without the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, overalls, goggles, boots and a mask, pesticides can be extremely harmful, causing symptoms such as vomiting, dizziness, respiratory problems, visual impairment and disorientation.

How can we help?

The Plantwise Knowledge Bank hosts variety of relevant resources that you may find useful, such as a factsheet on reducing exposure the agrochemicals, written by the Ministry of Agriculture in Barbados, which includes the following management information:

  • Spray at cool times of the day (evening or morning) so that wearing protective equipment is bearable in the heat.
  • The concentrated chemical is especially hazardous and additional equipment may be required when handling these chemicals.
  • Wear a specially produced spray suit or at least a long-sleeved shirt and full length pants.
    • Wear long rubber gloves and rubber boots
    • Your pants should go on the outside of the boots
    • Your sleeves should be on the inside of the gloves
    • Wear a hat to keep the chemical out of your hair
    • Wear a mask, preferably with a filter; if not available, use a bandanna (A bandanna may not give good protection and could make you think you are protected when you are not)
    • Wear protective glasses/sunglasses
  • Maintain the spraying equipment and check for leaks, replace the filter in the mask often. Make sure the mask is suitable for agrochemicals use.







We believe it is  important to take an Integrated Pest Management approach to controlling pests, which improves effectiveness and is environmentally sensitive. For advice on how to prevent, monitor and control bollworm on cotton using non-chemical control, please see our cotton bollworm green list which mentions practices such as reducing planting density, using trap crops and using natural enemies.

There is also a pest management decision guide specific to India, which emphasises non-chemical cotton bollworm management practices, and details pesticides that can be used along with their restriction information.

When developing and delivering content for farmers, we take the use of PPE very seriously, which is why we ensure that it is included in plant doctor training and highlighted in our content on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

If you would like to raise awareness of the importance of wearing protective clothing when spraying agrochemicals, then please print our Stay Safe poster.

Invasive Apple Snails- Book Cover

Joshi R.C., Cowie R.H., & Sebastian L.S. (eds). 2017. Biology and management of invasive apple snails. Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija 3119. 406 pp.​”


Open link in new window to view:

 Invasive Apple Snails Book 2017 – final.pdf



By Ejidiah Wangui NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Kenyan farmer Geoffrey Koech was staring at his ten-acre maize plantation shortly before the harvest with regret and bewilderment, aware that his investment had gone down the drain due to armyworm infestation.

“We are staring into a disaster,” he told Xinhua in a recent interview as hired labourers geared up to clear the corn that had retarded due to attack by the voracious pest

Koech’s farm located 159 km southwest of Nairobi was invaded by the fall armyworm (FAW) a few months ago and his efforts to salvage a portion of the farm from the fast-spreading pest were futile.

He now faces tough days ahead as farming is his only source of income.

The pests have caught many farmers like Koech by surprise, leaving a trail of destruction that is expected to trickle down to millions of households across Kenya that rely on corn as their staple food.

“It all started like a joke, during one of my tours around the farm, I noticed some of the plants had been attacked but I thought it is the usual worms that we deal with here. Within two weeks, I couldn’t believe my eyes as most of the plants had been attacked. I tried using pesticides but it was too late,” said Koech.

He had only heard about the FAW invasion in neighboring Uganda but never thought anything of the sort could strike closer home.

As small-holder farmers like Koech ponder on their next move, Kenya as a country stares at a 20 to 25-percent drop in maize yields in 2017, further complicating the situation as the East African nation is still reeling from the harsh effects of drought.

According to the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), the caterpillar could cause maize losses costing 12 African countries up to 6.1 billion U.S. dollars per annum, unless control methods are urgently put in place.

The FAW which was previously reported in Western Kenya has now spread to other regions such as Kwale County in the Coast.

In its latest “evidence note” report on the FAW, CABI said the caterpillar has the potential to cause maize yield losses ranging from 8.3 to 20.6 million tonnes per annum, in the absence of any control methods, in just 12 of Africa’s maize-producing countries.

According to the report, FAW should be expected to spread throughout suitable habitats in mainland sub-Saharan Africa within the next few cropping seasons.

Northern Africa and Madagascar are also at risk. In September, 28 countries in Africa confirmed presence of the pest, compared to only 12 five months earlier.

A further nine countries have conducted or are presently conducting surveys, and either strongly suspect its presence or are awaiting official confirmation.

According to Roger Day, CABI’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Coordinator, to avert the looming food crisis, affected nations need to come up with an integrated approach to deal with the crisis.

“Work must also start to assess which crop varieties can resist or tolerate FAW. In the longer run, national policies should promote lower risk control options through short-term subsidies and rapid assessment and registration of bio pesticides and biological control products,” Day said.

Immediate recommendations in the report include raising awareness on FAW symptoms, early detection and control, and the creation and communication of a list of recommended, regulated pesticides.

“If I was well informed on what to look out for and what to do when I discovered the first worm, I believe I could have saved close to a quarter of my farm from being invaded,” said Koech.

In July, Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett expressed concern over the FAW invasion saying the country’s food security was at stake as production in 2017 is forecast to drop by 9 million bags.

The worm, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is native to the Americas but there is no documented evidence to indicate how it crossed oceans to land in Africa.

fresh plaza logo

Australian scientists work to save the banana with fungus resistance trials

A slippery skid awaits the banana if the hazard is not removed. So in a field near Humpty Doo in Australia’s Northern Territory, scientists are racing to begin an experiment that could determine the future of the world’s most popular fruit.
Researchers will soon place into the soil plants that they hope will produce standard Cavendish bananas – the curved, yellow variety representing 99 per cent of all bananas sold in the United States.
The plants have been modified with genes from a different banana variety.
A fungus known as fusarium wilt has wiped out tens of thousands of hectares of Cavendish plantations in Australia and South-east Asia over the past decade and recently gained a foothold in Africa and the Middle East.
Scientists said Latin America, the source of virtually all the bananas eaten in the US, is next.
“These recent outbreaks confirmed that this thing does move,” said plant pathologist Randy Ploetz of the University of Florida, who identified the fungus in 1989 in samples from Taiwan.
Ever since, farmers have been trying to escape the effects of fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease Tropical Race 4, or TR4. Once it hits a farm, the only recourse is to eradicate the plants and start over.
Ironically, a major obstacle to replacing today’s Cavendish with a TR4-resistant strain is the industry, which, for the most part, has dropped out of doing research, said Prof Ploetz. The result is that very few scientists have been focusing on the problem directly.
This means that even if Prof Dale’s transgenic experiment in Humpty Doo is successful, the TR4 fungus’ march to Latin America may be inevitable.

Publication date: 10/13/2017



The Hellenic (Greek) Society of Phytiatry is requesting your support (Yes or No) of the introduction of Plant Medicine (Plant Doctor) in academia as a distinct university curriculum. The very brief survey (electronic vote) can be found at:


Acarologists wishing to host the International Congress of Acarology in 2022 should express their interest via email to the General Secretary of the International Executive Committee (IEC), Peter Schausberger (peter.schausberger@univie.ac.at). Deadline for submission of bids is March 1, 2018. Bids should comprise the following information
– city, congress site and approximate date
– status and relevance of acarology in host country and city
– composition of local organizing committee
– highlights of the city/venue
– international reachability
– infrastructure (congress site, hotels, leisure)
– approximate fees for regular attendants
– mode of publication of proceedings
The IEC will screen the bids and vote by roll call on the venue (via email). A candidate must reach an absolute majority (that is, 6 of 11 members) to win the election for hosting ICA 2022. If no candidate reaches an absolute majority, the two highest-ranking candidates are invited to give a 10 min presentation at ICA 2018 in Turkey. Following the presentations, the general assembly of ICA 2018 will decide on the venue by open vote (by show of hands), to be approved by the IEC.

Dear Colleagues

The XV International Congress of Acarology (XV ICA) is being staged at the WOW Topkapı Palace Hotel in Antalya, Turkey from 2 to 8 September, 2018. That means we are less than 11 months from the biggest event on the calendar for international acarology.

The host city, Antalya (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antalya), on the southern, sparkling Mediterranean coast of Turkey, is a major agriculture centre and international tourism destination year round, with a multitude of beachfront resorts. It also hosts many hundreds of conferences and congresses annually.

The congress website at http://www.acarology.org/ica/ica2018/ has all the up-to date congress details, including registration and accommodation.

Please note the deadlines for symposia and seminar proposals (22 December 2017), abstract submission (1 March 2018) and bids for staging XVI ICA 2022 (1 March 2018) are fast approaching.

For congress related enquiries, please contact kongre@bilkonturizm.com.tr and for scientific matters, ica2018turkey@gmail.com

The Organising Committee would greatly appreciate your forwarding this reminder and second circular to colleagues, related institutions and societies with a request that they kindly post a link to the XV ICA 2018 website.

We look forward with great anticipation to seeing you at XV ICA in Antalya in September 2018.

Very best wishes

On behalf of the Organising Committee

 Prof. Dr. Sebahat K. Ozman-Sullivan
XV ICA, 2018

XV ICA 2018 <ica2018turkey@gmail.com>

 ‘The Acari: Very small but impossible to deny!’