Student - May 28, 2009

FALL OF SOVIET UNION A BLOW FOR ORGANIC PLANT PROTECTION

With the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, ecological crop protection in Kazakhstan collapsed, concludes PhD researcher Kazbek Toleubayev, who argues for a return to a collective crop protection system in his country.

After the fall of communism in 1991, state knowledge institutions, including the organization for disease and pest control, were abandoned to their fates, says the researcher. No more young researchers were trained in plant protection, middle-aged researchers found better-paid jobs elsewhere, and the old guard looked back nostalgically to the Soviet era.

Plant protection businesses jumped in to fill the knowledge gap by aggressively promoting the use of pesticides. This led to a lack of policy on ecological crop protection, and Kazakhstan paid the price for this during a series of devastating locust plagues between 1998 and 2001. Individual farmers proved unable to control the plagues. The agrarian crisis which followed was largely due to a lack of knowledge about integrated pest management (IPM), says Toleubayev, who explains that IPM was practised on a large scale in Kazakhstan in the nineteen seventies and eighties. He predicts that if his government does not incorporate this Soviet era plant protection policy in its own new policy, diseases and plagues will continue to threaten sustainable food security in Kazakhstan. / Albert Sikkema

Kazbek Toleubayev received his PhD on 27 May from Paul Richards, Professor of Technology and Agrarian Development.

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