Kukiat Soitong and Witchuda Rattanakarn, Rice Department, Bangkok, Thailand
The problem is once again threatening rice production in Thailand. The planthopper populations in some areas have increased more than 100,000 folds !!. Thousands of hectares in 14 provinces are now infested by the pest and virus diseases that it carries. Since planthoppers are insecticide induced and farmers are not aware of this, they had focused on spraying even more. Since pesticides in Thailand are sold as fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and farmers rely on local retailers for advice they remain stuck in a vicious cycle of using more insecticides and increasing their debts.
The BPH outbreaks have attracted media interest and TV 3 broadcast a short story on Lop Buri farmers who had lost their crops. This is available on YouTube. Farmers described to the TV reporter that they started spraying insecticides at 3 to 7 day intervals after hearing about BPH outbreaks in the neighboring province. Their crops turned brown and were completely destroyed in less than a week after the spraying.
The Thai cabinet in its last session approved the project on developing sustainable planthopper management submitted by the Rice Department. The 385 million baht (or US$ 12.8 million) the Department is seeking will be used to multiply 15,000 tons of BPH varieties for distribution, to establish giant light traps in 20 provinces, establish mobile units, 300 community BPH management centers and communication campaigns. This will continue to support the sustainable planthopper management initiative, launched on 25 March 2011 in Chainat.
Additional information links
On the toxicity of chlorpyrifos, a commonly used insecticide in rice fields caused the death of a tourist in Chiang Mai because it was used to treat bed bugs in a hotel.