Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, which relies heavily on its major crops. Pakistan’s principal natural resources are arable land and water.

Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, which relies heavily on its major crops. Pakistan’s principal natural resources are arable land and water. Agriculture accounts for about 18.9% of Pakistan’s GDP and employs about 42.3% of the labor force.

The country’s major agriculture has been contributed by Punjab Province, where wheat and cotton are the main growing crops. Mango and citrus are cash crops that significantly contribute to the country’s economy. Petroleum is a key product used in several industries and plays an important role in the economy, especially in the agriculture sector.

Pakistan is a net importer of petroleum products, and any depreciation in the value of the rupee against the dollar has also led to higher prices for both petrol and diesel, which are extensively used by the general population.

The vulnerability of the agricultural sector to both climate change and variability is well established in the literature. The consensus is that changes in temperature and precipitation will result in changes in land and water regimes that will subsequently affect agricultural productivity.

Research has also shown that, specifically in tropical regions with many of the poorest countries, impacts on agricultural productivity are expected to be particularly harmful. The vulnerability of these countries is also especially likely to be acute in light of technological, resource, and institutional constraints.

Although estimates suggest that global food production is likely to be robust, experts predict tropical regions will see both a reduction in agricultural yields and a rise in poverty levels as livelihood opportunities for many engaged in the agricultural sector become increasingly susceptible to expected climate pressures.

Pakistan is also at risk due to changing environmental conditions that are threatening food security. There are studies that reveal that the maximum temperature adversely affects wheat production and is significant for all crops.

The rainfall effect on the yield of a selected crop is negative, except for wheat. To cope with and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, there is a need for the development of heat- and drought-resistant, high-yielding varieties to ensure food security in the country.

Pakistan’s economy is based on the agricultural sector because of its contribution to the total income of the country. The agricultural sector serves as a source of livelihood for 42.3 percent of rural inhabitants and contributes 19.8 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

The prime objective of the agricultural sector is to ensure food security and reduce poverty by increasing production. The country is extremely vulnerable to climate change due to its geographical location, high population, and low technological resource base.

Pakistan suffered severe economic losses during various floods in previous years. About 300,000 people were displaced, and more than 20 million were seriously affected. Pakistan needs US $6–14 billion annually to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.

Additionally, pests are one of the most concerning biotic problems in agriculture and food. Humans are constantly in search of new strategies to control them.

Traditional strategies like integrated pest management used in agriculture are insufficient, and applying chemical pesticides has adverse effects on animals and human beings in addition to declining soil fertility, pest resistance, elimination of natural enemies, environmental pollution, loss of biodiversity, and human health hazards. As an alternative, using nanotechnology in pest management can be one of the most promising techniques to overcome the problems of using conventional chemical pesticides.

Although they still face many obstacles and uncertainties and need more research to improve their development, evaluation, and regulation, Nanotechnology refers to technology that is implemented at the nanoscale and has applications in the real world. The unique physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials can be exploited for applications that benefit society.

Nanotechnology represents a megatrend and has become a general-purpose technology. An executive action of 2000, the National Nanotechnology Initiative was formalised with the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act in 2003.

Moreover, nanotechnology as an alternative for the management of insect pests is increasing efficiency against target organisms and the low toxicity of nanocides to non-target organisms, highlighting the insufficient collateral environmental damage reported in this work. It also provides selective, targeted, and long-term-controlled release of the formulated nanomaterial, which is ecologically more viable. So, using nanotechnology for insect pest management is considered environmentally sustainable and an excellent insect control strategy in green agriculture.

Nanotechnology is a promising field of interdisciplinary research. It opens up a wide array of opportunities in various fields, like medicine, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and agriculture.

The potential uses and benefits of nanotechnology are enormous. These include insect pest management through the formulation of nanomaterial-based pesticides and insecticides, enhancement of agricultural productivity using bio-conjugated nanoparticles (encapsulation) for slow release of nutrients and water, nanoparticle-mediated gene or DNA transfer in plants for the development of insect pest-resistant varieties, and use of nanomaterials for the preparation of different kinds of biosensors, which would be useful in remote sensing devices required for precision farming.

Traditional strategies like integrated pest management used in agriculture are insufficient, and the application of chemical pesticides has adverse effects on animals and human beings apart from the decline in soil fertility.

Therefore, nanotechnology would provide green and efficient alternatives for the management of insect pests in agriculture without harming nature. This review is focused on traditional strategies used for the management of insect pests, the limitations of the use of chemical pesticides, and the potential of nanomaterials in insect pest management as modern approaches to nanotechnology.

Nanopesticides, nanofungicides, and nanoherbicides are being used in agriculture (Owolade et al., 2008). Many companies make formulations that contain nanoparticles within the 100–250 nm size range that are able to dissolve in water more effectively than existing ones, thus increasing their activity.

Some other companies employ suspensions of nanoscale particles (nano-emulsions), which can be either water- or oil-based and contain uniform suspensions of pesticidal or herbicidal nanoparticles in the range of 200–400 nm, which have multiple applications for preventative measures, treatment, or preservation of the harvested product. Apart from these important applications, nanotechnology can be used in sectors like food packaging, gene transfer for crop improvement, nano-food, etc.

 

Traditional Pest Management Falling Short in Pakistan

Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionise the existing technologies used in various sectors, including agriculture. Nanotechnology may have concrete solutions to many agriculture-related problems, like insect pest management using traditional methods, adverse effects of chemical pesticides, the development of improved crop varieties, etc.

Nanomaterials in different forms can be used for the efficient management of insect pests and formulations of potential insecticides and pesticides. Nanoparticle-mediated gene transfer would be useful for the development of new insect-resistant varieties. Therefore, nanotechnology can provide green and eco-friendly alternatives for insect pest management without harming nature.

This article is jointly authored by Shahid Majeed, Muhammad Sufian, Neha Kiran, and Adeena Bano from the Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.