One of the major challenges facing agriculture is to increase food production to feed the expanding world population, while limiting the environmental impact of agriculture and the associated pesticide crop treatments.
Food and fibre crops are attacked by a range of insects and pest types that can negatively impact production and quality, limit plant growth, damage produce by direct feeding, and in some cases spread vector-borne plant disease throughout the crop. Insects affect both in-field crop production as well as stored crop produce.
Insects and pests feed on all kinds of plants and stored agricultural produce, leading to significant economic losses. Examples of insects and pests in major food and fibre crop groups are listed below:
Insects and pests destroy an estimated 18-26% of overall annual crop production worldwide. A large proportion of losses (13-16%) occurs in the field, before harvest. Despite the application of insecticides and other control measures a substantial proportion of annual production is lost to insects and pests worldwide. As outlined in the figure below this varies between crops and for some crops this can be as high as 50% of potential production:
A significant proportion of this loss also happens at the storage stage. Post-harvest loss accounts for physical losses that reduce the economic value of crop, or may make it unsuitable for human or animal consumption.
The above stresses the importance of crop protection from insect damage, with the global crop protection insecticide market estimated to be valued at US$16.0 billion per annum in 2012.