Denying the Stink Bug – A Success Story

Stink Bug Pest Devastates Georgia’s Agriculture, Asian Invasion: Stink Bug in Georgia, Stink Bugs Invade Georgia – These are but a few headlines that local and international media chose to report that the brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB), or Halyomorpha halys, or to call it by the Georgian name, Parosana, had arrived in hordes to devour Georgian agricultural produce. Although it was believed to have migrated to western Georgia in 2015 from Russia’s Sochi region, Moscow, in classic Kremlin fashion, blamed the US for alleged sabotage. But despite all the doomsaying and despite the significant, if unavoidable, damage that the Parosana caused to Georgian farmers, thing’s might be starting to look up as the efforts of the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture and National Food Agency’s program of complimentary spraying of pesticides in western Georgia, with significant aid provided by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are slowly but surely steadying the ship. The governments’ efforts have been praised by leading experts in the field, while the population seems to be adapting to the necessity of increased measures to protect their crops and fields. Every now and then, there are some who manage to dupe the all-devouring bug altogether, leaving it totally empty-mandibled.

One such farmer is Goga Abuladze from Tsalenjikha. The young man has a sizeable hazelnut garden over a territory of 10 hectares. Parosana was obviously a threat to him too, although having served his garden a triple spraying session over the season, he’s sure the danger has abated and is expecting a typically rich harvest.

Goga took no chances: he sprayed the hazelnut trees not only against Parosana but also to prevent powdery mildew and rot. His efforts didn’t go unrewarded as his hazelnut crop is virtually untouched by any of these plagues. The costs were also acceptable from his viewpoint – 300 GEL for each ha, acceptable costs when considering the profit he’s going to receive after selling the harvest: one hectare yields about two tons of hazelnuts.

“When you’ve done your spraying right, if you timed it right and chosen the right pesticides, then the results will be right too,” he said. “And it’s heartening to see that the government is on hand trying to help both practically and with advice.”

The 2018 Georgian national budget includes 4 million GEL ($1.6 million) for the fight against the BMSB, complemented by another 8 million GEL ($3.2 million) from USAID. International organizations, among them the International Plant Protection Convention as well as the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, are cooperating with the Georgian side to effectively counter the Stink Bug threat.

By Vazha Tavberidze

06 August 2018 16:55