Dr M.A. Maqbool, Director of the National Nematological Research Centre, said that he was proud that FAO had selected his centre in Pakistan to organize the consultation. This was an important landmark in nematology at which scientists in the Near East region entered a new era of cooperation. He also pointed out that the greatest challenge in developing countries was to feed ever increasing populations, and therefore it was necessary to take all possible steps to increase world food production.
Dr Maqbool added that nematode pests cause a global loss estimated at US$77 billion annually. The nematode problem in Pakistan, as in other countries of the Near East region, had received little attention in the past. Nematology should receive a higher allocation of resources on a priority basis. He gave a detailed account of resource inflow from the various donors in Pakistan, the role of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and the establishment of the National Nematological Research Centre at the University of Karachi. He also referred to the successful continued publication of the Pakistan Journal of Nematology, which is completing a decade of service to nematologists.
Dr Mahmoud M. Taher, FAO Regional Plant Protection Officer for the Near East, welcomed the invited speakers and participants to the consultation, expressed appreciation to the Government of Pakistan for hosting the consultation and thanked the University of Karachi and the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council for support provided to the meeting. He said that nematode control was not developing well, apparently because countries in the Near East region do not recognize the significance of nematology and because the majority of nematologists tend to deal more with the academic than the applied aspects of research. Farmers, who have already abandoned traditional cultural control practices, relied heavily on chemical control which had proved expensive, hazardous, inefficient and non-durable. Dr Taher hoped that this consultation would signal the start of a regional programme for integrated pest management of nematodes in which scientists, extension agents and farmers would work together towards sustainable agriculture that is not threatened by pests such as nematodes.