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Photos: Virginia Tech program saves farmers' livelihoods in Asia

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Rangaswamy “Muni” Muniappan heads up Virginia Tech’s federally funded Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program, a venture that works in developing countries to minimize crop losses, increase farmer income, and decrease pesticide use.

Muniappan travels the world to work directly with farmers to protect their fields from pests.

In India, he discovered the papaya mealybug, a pest that, left unchecked, could destroy thousands of acres of papaya orchards and spread to other countries and crops in Asia. The most effective solution to combat this pest was a natural one. With guidance from the support program, a tiny parasitic wasp that preys on the eggs of the papaya mealybug was released. The tactic has proven remarkably successful.

The papaya mealybug isn’t the only pest Muniappan has taken on. Explore this gallery to learn more about Muniappan and his work around the world.

Photos by Gene Ball, Rangaswamy Muniappan, Ed Rajotte, Miriam Rich, and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

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