Wantana Sriratanasak, Dara Chettanachit and Orapin Wattanesk
Rice Department, Chatuchak, Bangkok Thailand
The brown planthopper (BPH) and the two virus diseases they transmit, rice grassy stunt (RGSV) and rice ragged stunt (RRSV), started infecting large areas in Central Thailand in July 2009. Both insect and diseases spread to all the provinces and several of the provinces, like Phitsanulok, Phichit and Kamphaeng Phet were suffered huge losses (Read about 30% of Kamphaeng Phet’s rice production destroyed by planthoppers). We are now beginning to see the infected areas declining in some provinces. In June there was about 25,000 ha (or only 6%) with BPH outbreaks compared to 379,000 ha in December 2009.
Although large areas in Suphan Buri, Sing Buri and Kamphaeng Phet were still heavily infected with the two virus diseases, damaged areas in other provinces, like Phichit and Chai Nat were very low in June. One reason for the decline was water shortage which prevented many farmers from growing the last crop. This had created a “break” in the outbreak cycles. In addition the government had also paid about US$ 28 million to farmers to delay planting.
Over the period from July 2009 to June 2010 of attacks of BPH and virus diseases, about 3.1 million ha of rice were seriously damaged and about 1.1 million tons of paddy lost. The government provided US$ 22 million in pesticide subsidies through the provincial budgets, US$ 28 million as incentives for farmers to delay planting and US$ 3.3 million for farmers to change varieties. The BPH in 2009/2010 had cost Thailand about US$ 275 million loss in export revenues and government spending of about US$ 60 million in subsidies, compensations, campaigns and control activities. The livelihoods of thousands of farmers were threatened as many suffered successions of crop losses and some of them went into debt. The government had also introduced a debt relief scheme to help farmers suffering losses from BPH attacks and drought. Continue reading