In­sect mass-rear­ing work­shop by ex­perts

Cape Argus - - WEATHER & ENVIRONMENT - CORINNA S BAZELET Stel­len­bosh Univer­sity

SO­LU­TIONS to end world hunger and the de­struc­tion of our planet might lie in an un­likely place, in our tini­est and most over­looked six­legged friends, the in­sects.

Just as cat­tle, fish or other live­stock are reared in large num­bers – such as for meat or dairy pro­duc­tion – so, too, are in­sects reared for a va­ri­ety of pur­poses, some of which are quite in­stru­men­tal to our daily lives.

Ster­ile in­sect tech­nique (SIT), for ex­am­ple, is a method used for re­duc­ing the num­ber of agri­cul­tural pests by re­leas­ing lab­o­ra­tory-reared, in­fer­tile in­sects into agri­cul­tural en­vi­ron­ments, to mate with wild in­di­vid­u­als, which will re­sult in the pro­duc­tion of in­fer­tile eggs, and thus no fur­ther prog­eny.

Th­ese pro­grammes ben­e­fit our agri­cul­ture (such as cit­rus, and the ta­ble grape in­dus­try) and the econ­omy by en­abling the pro­duc­tion of high qual­ity fruit with less chem­i­cal in­sec­ti­cide in­put. This makes our fruit more mar­ketable.

Bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol agents, or ben­e­fi­cial in­sects which feed on and kill weeds and pest in­sects, are an ex­cel­lent re­place­ment for chem­i­cal her­bi­cides and in­sec­ti­cides.

Weed bio­con­trol agents for ex­am­ple are widely used in South Africa to clear out clogged wa­ter­ways and other in­va­sive alien plant in­fes­ta­tions, es­pe­cially in ar­eas that are hard to ac­cess by other means.

Just as an­i­mal pro­duc­tion is a sci­ence in and of it­self, so, too, is in­sect mass-rear­ing a field which is grow­ing and im­prov­ing with the de­vel­op­ment of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances.

There is a grow­ing de­mand for more sus­tain­able pest con­trol and pro­tein pro­duc­tion, and re­duc­tion of waste prod­ucts us­ing in­sect de­com­posers, even hav­ing but­ter­flies re­plac­ing con­fetti at wed­dings.

The In­ter­na­tional In­sect Rear­ing Work­shop (IIRW), held an­nu­ally at Mis­sis­sippi State Univer­sity, US, cel­e­brated its 20th ses­sion in 2017. The IIRW served as a model for this first South African In­sect Mass-Rear­ing Work­shop.

Pro­fes­sor Des Con­long, of the South African Sug­ar­cane Re­search In­sti­tute and Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity’s Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion Ecol­ogy and En­to­mol­ogy, and Dr El­sje Pi­eterse of Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity’s Depart­ment of An­i­mal Sci­ence, are two of our most ex­pe­ri­enced and knowl­edge­able in­sect-rear­ing ex­perts.

They at­tended the IIRW in Novem­ber last year, and were en­cour­aged by the founders to repli­cate the work­shop and adapt it to our con­text.

A year later, from Oc­to­ber 23-27, the first In­sect Mass-Rear­ing Work­shop was held in Stel­len­bosch, hosted by the IPM Ini­tia­tive in the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion Ecol­ogy and En­to­mol­ogy.

The work­shop brought to­gether 42 at­ten­dees from gov­ern­ment, pri­vate in­dus­try and academia from five coun­tries, with ex­per­tise rang­ing from biology, en­to­mol­ogy and engi­neer­ing to eco­nomics.

Twelve sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts pre­sented lec­tures on top­ics for sci­en­tif­i­cally based mass in­sect rear­ing, which in­cluded ge­net­ics, phys­i­ol­ogy, in­sect nutri­tion, in­sec­tary de­sign, qual­ity con­trol, health and safety, and in­sect pathol­ogy.

To learn more or reg­is­ter for next year’s work­shop, visit: http://www. sun.ac.za/english/fac­ulty/agri/con­ser­va­tion-ecol­ogy/ipm/work­shops/ in­sect-mass-rear­ing-work­shop

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