One of the major challenges facing agriculture is to increase food production to feed the expanding world population, while limiting any adverse environmental impacts of agriculture generally and including the associated pest management programs involving pesticide use.
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. This can lead 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 and can be as high as 50% of potential production.
A significant proportion of this loss occurs post-harvest during storage from insect damage. This can significantly reduce the economic value of crop produce or may make it unsuitable for human or animal consumption and therefore unmarketable.
The above stresses the importance of crop protection from insect damage, with the global crop protection insecticide market reported as totalling US$20.8 billion per annum by 2022, an increase of 30% over current market value.