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US biocontrol programme cuts Indian crop losses

A biological control programme devised by a US university is estimated to have saved more than $1,000 million in crop losses in India over five years. Three parasitoid wasps from Mexico have been shown to be effective against papaya mealybugs ( Paracococcus marginatus) , which were identified in India by researchers from Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia). The biological control programme cost about $200,000 during its first year of operation and reduced losses in that year by some $309 million, the researchers estimate. Without the programme, losses would have amounted to about $524 million in the first year and over $1,300 million in five years. The parasitoid wasp, Acerophagus papayae, was found to be effective against the pest in India. Papaya mealybugs had spread from Mexico to the US, the Caribbean, and Central and South America by 2000 and reached India in 2006.

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