After reading this article you will learn about the plant quarantine of germplasm.
The import of seed and other planting material for sowing and/or planting purposes, food grain for consumption and so also the small samples of germplasm for research purpose are potential sources of introducing destructive exotic pests in the country. At both the national and international levels, there are glaring examples of enormous losses caused by the pests and diseases introduced with such imports.
Plant quarantine is a government endeavour enforced through legislative measures to regulate the introduction of planting materials, plant products, soil, living organisms, etc. in order to prevent inadvertent introduction of pests harmful to the agriculture of a country or a region, and if introduced, prevent their establishment and further spread. The quarantine measures are of utmost relevance to a country like India whose economy is largely agriculture based.
There are glaring examples of entry of pests into new areas along with introduced planting material. The introduction of the late blight pathogen (Phytophthora infestans) of potato into Europe from Central America in the middle of I9th century; powdery mildew (Uncinula necator), root eating aphid (Phylloxera vitifolia) and downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola) of grapes into France in quick succession, also in mid 19th century from America; chestnut blight (Endothia parasitica) into USA on the nursery stocks imported from the Orient in 1904 and coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix) into Sri Lanka in 1875 from South America are some of the well authenticated examples of international spread of important pests.
At national level, huge economic losses occurred in grain yield of Cicer arietinum in states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and adjoining areas during 1981-82 due to infection by a virulent biotype of Aschochyta introduced from the Middle East. Bunchy top of banana entered in India from Sri Lanka and causes loss to the tune of over Rs. 4 crores annually.
The dreaded golden nematode of potato introduced from UK has already infested entire Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu. The introduction of exotic weeds such as Lantana camara in the early 19th century from Central America, Parthenium hysterophorus from Central and South America and Phalaris minor from Mexico in mid 20th century into India have become endemic sources of threat to our crop production and environment.
There is a dire need to check not only spread of the above pests but also to promulgate domestic quarantine against certain important pests which have been introduced/detected in the country in the recent years and which are likely to spread fast.
The important examples of reports of such pests are American serpentine leaf miner (Liriomyza trifolii) from Karnataka in 1991, spiraling white fly (Aleurodiscus disperses) recorded from Tamil Nadu in 1993, papaya ring spot virus from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in 1994, banana bract mosaic potyvirus and banana streak mosaic badnavirus from Trichy area of Tamil Nadu in 1995, sunflower downy mildew (Plasmopara halstedii) recorded for the first time from Maharashtra in 1984 and peanut stripe potyvirus initially recorded at Raichur in Karnataka in 1987 are now being reported from certain other states.
In 1999, a new biotype B of the white fly Bemisia tabaci which is an efficient vector for tomato leaf curl virus has been reported in Kolar taluk of Bangalore and is suspected to have been introduced with imports of horticultural crops.
The Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage (DPPQ & S) of Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India is the nodal organization for implementation of plant quarantine regulations. National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources draws its legal authority from this Directorate for exchange of germplasm meant for research purpose.
The Plant Quarantine Division of NBPGR monitors quarantine processing of all germplasm exchanged at the national level in India. The Division has developed procedures for a systematic and stepwise quarantine processing of germplasm through its well equipped laboratories and greenhouse facilities both at the Headquarters and at its Regional Station, Hyderabad.
Quarantine greenhouse facilities have also been established at NBPGR Regional Station, Bhowali to facilitate quarantine processing of temperate fruit crops and at Indian Institute of Pulses Research (IIPR), Kanpur for post entry quarantine processing of pulses.
The Plant Quarantine Division also extends technical support to the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture on policy issues as and when required.
Now a days transgenic planting material (such as seeds of transgenic soybean, mustard and cotton) is also being imported into the country for research use.
It has been felt that apart from quarantine processing for freedom from seed transmitted diseases, such imported material also need to be evaluated for freedom from potential risks to environment posed by the transgenes (through gene flow, emergence of new pathogens, induced genetic changes, allergenicity/toxicity to the non-target organisms) before they are released.
Recently Government of India has banned the import of transgenic seeds with tenninator gene. NBPGR has established a National Containment Facility for evaluation of quarantine risks associated with the import of transgenic planting material at New Delhi.
Important Milestones in Quarantine:
1914 – Destructive Insects and Pests (DIP) Act promulgated which later formed the basis of functioning of the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage through its national network of plant quarantine stations at different airports, seaports and land frontiers/check ports.
1946 – Plant Quarantine processing of exotic germplasm initiated at the then Imperial Agricultural Research Institute (now Indian Agricultural Research Institute) for Plant Introduction Scheme.
1956 – Plant Quarantine Units in the Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology established at IARI, New Delhi.
1961 – Plant Introduction Division established in IARI; germplasm exchange and plant quarantine activities increased manifold.
1967 – Division of Nematology established at IARI, which housed Nematology unit of plant quarantine.
1976 – NBPGR established.
1981 – Post-entry quarantine of imported (chemically treated) wheat, barley and triticale started in isolation nursery.
1983 – Post-entry quarantine for detection of seed transmitted viruses in exotic legumes started.
1984 – Plants, Fruits and Seeds (PFS) (Regulation of Import into India) Order issued under DIP Act.
1985 – Regional Station of Plant Quarantine established at Hyderabad to initiate quarantine processing of germplasm meant for ICRISAT and research institutions in South India.
1988 – New Policy on Seed Development (NPSD) announced, resulting in increased import of seed material.
1989 – PFS Order (1984) revised to meet the requirements of NPSD and increasing imports.
1990 – Plant Virology laboratory established. Serological detection of viruses initiated.
1995 – WTO came into force, quarantine concerns in trade started, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement of WTO signed.
1997 – Establishment of post-entry quarantine greenhouse complex at New Delhi Hyderabad, Bhowali and Kanpur.
1999 – Seed health testing of germplasm for pest free conservation initiated.
2000 – Quarantine processing of imported transgenic material started at New Delhi.
All the imported samples are directly received at New Delhi. The imported samples meant for the consignees located in southern India are sent by air to Hyderabad regional station after allocating Exotic Collection number or trial number by Germplasm Exchange Unit.
Vegetable Genetic Resources and NBPGR 95
Germplasm Handling at NBPGR: