The weevil currently threatens sweet potatoes in Jamaica, but with GIS, they may be outwitted. Currently, predatory insects, viruses, and fungal infections have damaged three of Jamaica’s popular export crops—peppers, sweet potatoes, and the leafy green callaloo. To deal with this problem, agricultural personnel in developing countries are being taught to use GIS to collect and analyze data to help with pest management. Using GIS well help to keep the level of pest populations low and also prevents excessive use of pesticide.
Reducing pesticide use is not only critical for the health of farmers and environments in Jamaica, but is also important in lowering the percentage of export crops that are rejected due to pesticide contamination by countries such as the United States. Integrated pesticide management with GIS will keep pest populations below the level at which they would cause economic damage. Also, the hard-to-control sweet-potato weevil is one that can thrive in dry conditions, so farmers can use alternative methods such as irrigation to decrease weevil populations instead of applying high dosages of agrochemicals.
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Melissa Lawrence, Rutgers Student Intern, VERTICES, LLC