Kukiat Soitong, Wantana Sriratanasak , Witchuda Rattanakarn, Rice Department, Bengkhen, Bangkok, Thailand and K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
Vulnerable factors in Central Thailand continue to prevail. In 2010 more than 1.5 million rais (or 240,000 ha ) were reported destroyed by hopperburn and virus diseases. This year BPH infestations seem to be starting earlier in Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri, Chainat and Sin Buri provinces. About 300,000 rai (or 48,000 ha) has been reported to be seriously damaged. Pest storms invades several cities as the migrating BPH attracted to lights infested numerous commercial outlets that open at night, such as gasoline stations, restaurants and night markets. Customers were forced to put up with BPH jumping into their soups and food dishes. The Rice Department’s new building in Bengkhen, Bangkok was also invaded by BPH.
We visited a village in Song Phi Nong district in Suphan Buri province and met with 50 farmers who have been severely affected by planthopper outbreaks. All the farmers attended farmer field schools (FFS) a year ago. Their fields had received more than 3 sprays of abamectin and cypermethrin when they observed large numbers of BPH that infested their homes and fields a couple of weeks ago. Fields with rows of hopperburn occurring along the spray paths were observed. It is well established that insecticide induce BPH outbreaks shortening the food chain length (Heong and Schoenly 1998), destroy biodiversity (Way and Heong 1994 and disrupt ecosystem services (Heong 2009) thus favor r-strategists like the BPH. Farmers’ use of these resurgence causing insecticides had contributed to the huge outbreaks in Chainat in 2010).
To the question we posed: “How many of you obtained your advice from the local pesticide retailer?” all raised their hands. Farmers obtained their insecticide recommendations and supplies on credit from the local retailers. Several farmers said that the pesticide retailer was the local “pest doctor”. In Thailand pesticides are being sold as FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and most were unaware that they have been “mis-sold” resurgence causing insecticides.
Meanwhile the government is planning to reduce cropping intensity to decrease rice cropping intensity from 3 to 2 in support for more sustainable means to manage BPH problems. Businessweek. The Rice Department launched the Sustainable Planthopper Management Initiative that will focus on ecological engineering techniques, avoiding insecticide use in the first 40 days after sowing, the use of Beauveria extracts for sprays and giant light traps to trap out migrants.