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A Web-portal exclusively on Termite R&D Crossed One Million Mark Covering 81 Countries Across the World

by Dr G K Mahapatro

 

A web-portal (www.termitexpert.in) dedicated to termite research and development has crossed ONE MILLION visits, showcasing the significant interest on these tiny creatures that have long held a place in Indian culture and scriptures. The scientific scrutiny on termites in India began in earnest in the early 20th century, with researchers like Konig leading the way. However, there was a notable lull in termite research from the 1980s to 2010. In 2011, a National Fellow project was approved by ICAR, injecting new life into termite research with concerted focus on eco-friendly and sustainable management strategies. This project aimed to integrate both modern and traditional knowledge, leading to the establishment of a termite repository, biotech, and rearing laboratories. Molecular tools were employed to study termite genetics and behavior, while field trials tested seed treatments for major crops. The Pusa-Push-Pull-Strategy (3P4C) was developed and demonstrated as an eco-friendly termite management strategy in wheat-maize agro-ecosystems. The culmination of these efforts is the website www.termitexpert.in, which has seen tremendous popularity with ca.13.3 lakh hits/visits worldwide. Through various campaigns and training programs, the project has disseminated knowledge and demonstrated the importance of termite research. While a recent project proposal for National Professorship in 2021-22 was not approved, the momentum in termite research is expected to continue, aligning with the government's focus on natural farming.

Termite web-portal "Termitexpert" (www.termitexpert.in)

Since the days of Vedic eon, the tiny crawling creatures - termites secured a pride place in the life and culture of Bharat. In ancient Indian literature they were referred as ‘‘Kashtaharika’’(=wood feeders). Along with advancement of civilization and modernization, approaches to termite research also followed new pathways. Modern scientific research on termites kicked off by Konig [in 1779] in peninsular India. At the onset of twentieth century termite research was not in limelight other than listing, Lefroy [in 1909] listed as many as twenty species. With advancement of science in the second and third quarter of twentieth century, evidences of active research on termite came into public by various scientists viz. Snyder, Light, Roonwal and their co-workers and many more. This period enriched termite research in India by publication of various reports, books and other scientific scripts. Till 1960s, scientists were also actively engaged in addressing diverse aspects of termite including the damage and sustainable management measures. Even though studies of termites in India were mostly focused in the forestry and wood science sector, many authors had documented the damaging aspects and management practices of termites as structural pests. Sen-Sarma et al. [in 1975] listed many wood destroying termites in ‘Wood Destroying Termites of India’ from Forest Research Institute (Dehradun). Vivid description and assimilation of data on termites in tropical south Asian countries and their impact on various constructions along with available management practices was composed by Roonwal [in 1979] in his book ‘Termite Life and Termite Control in Tropical South Asia’. Under active patronage of Zoological Survey of India, another landmark book series was published in 1989 under title ‘The Fauna of India and The Adjunct Countries: Isoptera’. Such scientific literature surely laid the foundation stone of ‘Termite R&D’ in India that paved way for future research endeavours.

Unfortunately, termite research took a backseat, witnessed a vacuum lasting almost three decades i.e. 1980s to 2010s, almost three decade. A research project on termites was able to rejuvenate the termite R&D, once again, as it was approved by the Search-cum-Selection Committee, ICAR in 2011. The National Fellow (NF) project [worth INR 1.76 crore] envisaged establishing eco-friendly and sustainable termite management strategies and tactics, in holistic approach integrating both the frontier and indigenous technologies. Under the ambit of NF-project, the overall target-task in one word is ‘Termite R&D’ in India. The web-portal (www.termitexpert.in) launched in May 2017, is the testimony for the project outcome.

In one of its objective of the project, attempt to integrate the frontier sciences and ITKs is accomplished in formulating eco-friendly termite control strategy, the Pusa-Push-Pull-Strategy (3P4C) was innovated, validated and demonstrated for farmers at IARI, New Delhi for eco-friendly termite management in wheat-maize agro-ecosystem. This validated eco-technology is climate-smart, conservation-smart, carbon-smart and cash-smart.


Pusa-Push-Pull Strategy (3P4C) – eco-technology that is climate-smart, conservation-smart, carbon-smart & cash-smart

The ambitious website for termites, www.termitexpert.in, is aimed at under fourth objective, attained the target, is operational and quite popular (1.33  lakh hits/visits) covering 81 countries across the globe. Extensive termite R&D demonstration is accomplished through concerted campaigns via Krishi Melas, training to school teachers, students and agricultural scientists/staff. We sincerely hope, in near future the web-portal  will garner further popularity in crores, and serve the science and society.

 

Dr. G. K. Mahapatro is Principal Scientist at Division of Entomology, ICAR-IARI New Delhi. He is an expert in toxicology and termite management.

Email: gagan_gk@rediffmail.com 

 

Disclaimer: The contents, style, language, plagiarism, references, mention of any products if any, etc., are the sole responsibility of the authors.

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