Ho Van Chien, Director, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Tien Giang, Vietnam
La Pham Lan, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
and Nguyen Huu Huan, Vice Director General, Plant Protection Department, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ecological Engineering to enhance local biodiversity and related ecosystem services has been experimented in Tien Giang province with support from the provincial government. The community experiments in Cai Be and Cai Lay districts showed that rice farms with ecological engineering modifications had significantly higher predators and parasitoids and lower pests. Total parasitoids and predators in the ecologically modified fields were both higher by 150%, respectively. Pest populations in the ecological engineering fields were 130% lower than the control fields. The ecological engineering fields had no insecticide applications while the control fields were sprayed between 2 to 3 times.
On 10 September 2010 the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Bui Ba Bong, launched the Ecological Engineering Initiative in My Tho City. Known locally as Công Nghe Sinh Thái, the ecological engineering methods are best used together with the “Three Reductions, Three Gains” and “Escape Strategy” that were introduced to farmers earlier. The three reductions program, locally called Ba Giam Ba Tang introduced in 2005 is now adopted as government policy. Fields where local biodiversity in rice fields is increased by using flower plants is becoming acceptable to farmers after they learned about the three benefits (BA LOI ÍCH). The flowers would bring in bees and parasitoids to protect from invading hopper, they would help reduce insecticide use and increase in profits. Multiple media will be used to promote the initiative. These include leaflets, posters, billboards, radio and TV spots.
Using local government funding, ecological engineering or “Eco-Eng” as it is referred to in Vietnam, will be extended to three other districts in Tien Giang: Cho Gao (20 ha), Go Cong Tay (15 ha), Go Cong Dong (15 ha). An Giang province will also implement “Eco-En”.
In order to conserve the biodiversity of predators and parasitoids that provide the ecosystem services, it would also be important that all unnecessary insecticide sprays be removed. Insecticides are extremely destructive to ecosystem services and should only be used when absolutely needed. Instead of providing subsidy for factor inputs, like pesticides, government spending to support public goods like ecosystem services can enhance sustainability.