IPM in Melon
Melon is a major economic crop in Afghanistan grown across the country in both irrigated and rainfed areas. The major problem of melon in Afghanistan is the infestation of melon fly (Myiopardalis pardalina).The species is very different from other fruit flies. No control measures that are useful for other fruit flies, such as chemical insecticides, lures, baits, and physical and cultural controls including collection of pupa have been proven substantially effective against this insect pest yet.Based on field research conducted jointly by FAO and MAIL (in 2011), bagging the melon has been found as the most effective way of controlling melon fly. The melon should be bagged when it is almond size.
Among the bags, cloth bag has been found more effective. Aside from protecting the melon from melon fly, bagging increases the color of the fruit, making it more attractive to the buyers. This value addition to melon has become the primary motivation for famers to use bags.Bagging is more cost effective as well because a bag costs only 5 Afs (around 10 US cents), if made at home by the farmers themselves, and lasts for 3-5 years. When melon gets bigger and its skin becomes thicker, the bag can be removed to use for new melons, thus using the same bag for several melons in a season.
Melon fly cannot attack bigger melons. 4-5 laborers are sufficient to bag the melon of an acre of land, considering 2000 pieces as the average number of melon produced per acre. It should be noted that a person working eight hours a day could bag 400-500 melons per day.
Use of plastic mulch further boosts the production. Plastic mulch, which helps preserving soil moisture and controlling weed successfully, increases the uptake of soil nutrients by plants, preventing losses through evaporation. This results in vigorous plant growth and higher production.
After harvesting, plastic mulch should be removed and disposed of carefully, as this is not bio-degradable and may cause environmental degradation.
For more on IPM in melon see a short video.