Tiny wasps make big news

25 November, 2014 by (comments)
Release pic

Tiny parasitic wasps in a container before being released into a confined cage in Indonesia

When CIAT’s Kris Wyckhuys and Bogor Agricultural University’s Aunu Rauf unleashed around 3,000 tiny parasitic wasps into a field cage in Indonesia in September, little could they have imagined the big news these tiny creatures would whip up.

From the Financial Times, Bloomberg TV and the Wall Street Journal to local language outlets like Kompas, an international audience wanted to know what this “SWAT team”, co-led by IPB and the Ministry of Agriculture in Indonesia and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, was up to.

This report highlights the media coverage from the confined cage release, and shows the story was picked up by around 50 media outlets across 17 countries, from regional press in Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore to further afield in the USA, Canada, UK and South Africa.

The team received 12 local and international media enquiries and crews from Australian Broadcasting Association, Associated Press, Asahi Shimbun in Indonesia and Edge Review Hong Kong attended the release event to interview researchers and farmers on site. Many more outlets picked up the news after it first appeared on the wires.

Media reports highlighted the devastation which cassava pink mealybug (Phenacoccus manihoti) is already causing for millions of cassava farmers, in a country where cassava is the second major staple crop after rice.

They also point to the tiny two-millimeter Anagyrus lopezi wasps as one pesticide-free and environmentally sound option for controlling mealybug as part of wider Integrated Pest Management efforts.

The wasps were released inside a confined cage in an infected field in September as part of a bigger project addressing cassava threats and diseases in the region, funded by the European Union through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The release was a key project milestone in Indonesia, under the Emerging Pests and Diseases Project (EPDP).

The effort was only possible through the invaluable assistance of the Thai Tapioca Development Institute of Thailand, Thai Department of Agriculture, Thai Department of Agricultural Extension and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Download the compilation report

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Filed Under: CIAT in the media