• Short Summary

    A third of the world's food production never finds its way onto the dinner table.?

  • Description

    A third of the world's food production never finds its way onto the dinner table. That is the share ravaged by pests -- and the Centre for Overseas Pest Research in London opened its doors to the public for the first time Wednesday (19 February) to reveal what it is doing about the problem.

    Included among the enemy are locusts from Africa, India and Asia, biting flies from Malta, crazy ants from the Seychelles, termites and Quelea birds from Nigeria, and laughing doves from Botswana.

    The Centre is one of the scientific units of the Ministry of Overseas Development, and its activities form part of Britain's aid programme to developing countries.

    It began its work, in its present form, in 1971.

    The Centre works on pests of tropical agriculture and public health which are of international or regional significance.

    Much of this must be done in the field by the Centre's researchers around the globe. To deal with all this work, it has developed new techniques and explored sophisticated technologies -- for spraying pests and investigating and manipulating their life cycles.

    The Centre co-operates with all the major related United Nations Agencies -- such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    Of the world's food destroyed by pests, a third is lost on farms and the bulk infested while in store. The Centre predicts that pesticides will have to be used on a greater scale over the next 10 to 15 years if food production is to be maintained.

    All in all, the battle against pests, is one of the most important in the continuing war against world food shortage.

    SYNOPSIS: This Research Centre is London is trying to save a third of the world's food -- currently being ravaged by pests. On Wednesday it put on show, for the first time, its wide range of projects.

    The voracious locust -- which strips crops on every continent -- is perhaps the number one enemy. The Centre for Overseas Past Research -- which started work in its present form in 1971 -- maintains locust cultures from Mali, Saudi Arabia, Australia and France.

    Here a locust's flight is being controlled by a strobe light. The scientists can also measure its sing-beat frequency using a light beam. This all helps in developing eradication methods.

    The Quelea bird of Nigeria looks harmless enough.

    But is an important pest for cereal crops, such as rice -- in a country where a full harvest is a matter of life and death.

    Death to the Quelea birds comes from aerial spraying and blasting of their nesting sites.. Their population has been drastically reduced.

    Cryptotermes brevis or the every day termite doesn't need an introduction. But the Centre is more interested in its appetite for tropical timber forests than the family bedstead.

    It's estimated that two hundred million people -- mainly in Africa and South America -- are infected with a disease carried by aquatic snails.

    The Centre is looking for a way to control the snails without harming the fish they live with
    In this -- as in other projects -- they're co-operating with agencies of the United Nations.

    The disease -- Bilharzia -- is passed on to man by fish which have eaten the "host" snails.

    This is the effect it has on humans. The work of the Pest Research Centre is one part of Britain's aid programme to developing countries. And its fight is one of the most important in the continuing war against suffering and world food shortage.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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