While Vietnam, now the world’s second largest rice exporter ,is announcing that they will increase rice production and export (Vietnam Business) and expected to reach 2.14 million tons this year. Thailand the world’s leading rice exporter, on the other hand is curbing rice production (Bizweek) .
One of the reasons that Thailand’s rice production is expected to decline is the abundance of outbreaks caused by the brown planthopper (BPH). Vietnam, on the other hand, has very little outbreaks of this pest in the last 4 years and has been producing bumper crops in the last 2 years.
A Bangkok Post news item reported that Vietnam’s “Three Reductions, Three Gains” program is one factor that enables Vietnam to increase rice production. The program has become a national policy motivating farmers to reduce seed and fertilizer rates and to avoid using any insecticides in the first 40 days after sowing thus reducing insecticide sprays.
IRRI scientists in collaboration with Vietnamese scientists introduced this program in 2003, is now adopted by most farmers. Farmers practicing Ba Giam Ba Tang, the local name for the program, reduce their insecticide sprays by 13 to 33% (Huan et al 2008).
LEGATO plans to quantify the ecosystem functions and the services they generate in rice ecosystems in the three Asian countries and relate them to land use intensities, socio cultural and economic settings.
Based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) frameworks, the project will address the provisioning, regulating and cultural services of rice ecosystems. Valuation of ecosystem services will be conducted through monetary and non-monetary methods.
LEGATO will also test and improve existing indicators for ecological functions and ecosystem services, develop guidelines for optimizing ecosystem services and analyze the potentials of ecological engineering techniques. More details are available in the LEGATO website and also accessible from “Links” in Ricehoppers.net.