Sustainable production of safer fruits and vegetables in Lebanon is critical to both general public health and environmental wellbeing. Greenhouses increase yield, offering opportunities for farmers with small acreage to produce higher value crops by maximizing water use efficiency and minimizing loss from inclement weather. However, greenhouses also provide ideal insect environments and pose a major production constraint.
On February 10, Dr. Don Elliott, specialist in biological control and integrated pest management (IPM), from British Colombia, Canada, visited FAFS to present recent research outcomes from Canada, USA and Lebanon. In a lecture titled Towards Sustainable Production of Safer Fruits and Vegetables: Development and Use of Biological Control in Greenhouse Grown Vegetables, Dr. Elliott described an alternative to toxic chemical pesticides: the development and use of biological agents to manage plant pests. Chemical pesticides carry serious environmental and human health risks, while the simple, cost-effective approaches of biocontrol are ideal for greenhouse production.
A workshop took place on February 21, at the Syndicate of Engineers in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. 120 invited engineers, farmers, governmental representatives, FAO representative (Lebanon), and other stakeholders learned about an alternative to pesticides: a bio-based integrated pest management approach that is both non-toxic and cheaper. This product has been researched in Lebanon, with satisfactory results. The FAO representative showed interest in the project and is preparing a recommendation brief.
About the speaker and collaborating scientists:
- Don Elliott has over 50 years of experience in developing IPM strategies that use natural enemies to manage greenhouse pests. Elliott is the founder and former owner of Applied Bio-nomics, a major Canadian producer of biological control agents for greenhouse and field production of vegetables and ornamentals and for landscape settings.
- Bruce L. Parker is a professor of entomology and Program Leader at the University of Vermont’s Entomology Research Laboratory. He has over 50 years of experience working throughout the developing world on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and biological control in vegetable and wheat crops. Parker worked extensively in Western and Central Asia, including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
- Margaret Skinner, extension entomologist and research professor at the University of Vermont, has more than 25 years’ experience in the Middle East. She has conducted applied research on insect pests of forests and vegetables. Dr. Skinner coordinates IPM education programs for greenhouse growers in northern New England, USA.
- Imad Saoud, professor in the Biology Department of AUB, is an expert in aquaculture and leads the More crop per drop project. Dr. Saoud was recently elected to the board of the World Aquatic Society, Asian Pacific Chapter, in recognition of his contributions to this global professional organization through aquaculture research on ways to sustainably integrate fish culture and vegetable production in greenhouse settings.
- Yusuf Abou Jawdah, professor of plant pathology, FAFS-AUB since 1991, has over 30 years of experience in plantprotection. His research interests focus on molecular diagnosis of plant diseases and development of IPM measures based, mainly, on environmentally-friendly approaches, including biocontrol agents.