An agricultural research program managed at Virginia Tech has won an international award for its work with pest-management practices that show economic benefits with minimal impact on health and the environment.

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP), managed by Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development (OIRED), was honored at the 6th International IPM Symposium on March 24. The IPM Excellence Awards are given every three years in conjunction with the symposium to individuals or organizations that show significant impact in realizing the economic benefits of IPM activities, reducing health risks for pest management practices, and minimizing adverse environmental impacts of pesticide usage.

“It is a great honor to receive this award, but even more of a tribute to the hard work of our many collaborators around the world,” said S.K. De Datta, administrative principal investigator for the program and director of OIRED in his remarks on behalf of the IPM CRSP project. “We know that, at a conservative estimate, the IPM CRSP has brought $500 million in benefits to the countries where we have had programs.”

The IPM research program is one of eight Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs) funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It was cited for its work to raise living standards, reduce malnutrition, and ameliorate health and environmental problems through IPM methods in some of the poorest parts of the world. The program’s research now involves 22 U.S. universities, 57 foreign institutions, and several international agricultural research organizations and non-governmental organizations in 32 developing countries on four continents.

These development projects include field schools that build farmers’ knowledge and strengthen their connections both within and beyond their communities. The program also provides graduate-level education to foreign students who then reinvest their knowledge and expertise in their home countries. Some of the most successful projects are biocontrol of insects and diseases in vegetables; eggplant and tomato grafting to resist soil pathogens; and the use of pheromone lures to monitor pest populations.

Working closely with local farmers, the IPM CRSP encourages them to take part in IPM program development. Research projects are often conducted in fields where the farmers can see firsthand how effective the new methods and modern technology are, an incentive to continued participation and successful implementation. Other elements of the IPM CRSP include developing strong ties between non-government and government organizations, training trainers, and facilitating technology transfer.

More than 700 IPM professionals representing 25 countries attended the two and a half day international IPM symposium in Portland, Ore. This year’s theme was “Transcending Boundaries.”

Find more information about the IPM CRSP.

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