Kukiat Soitong, Rice Department, Bangkhen, Bangkok, Thailand and
M.M. Escalada, Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines
It is well established that brown planthopper (BPH) outbreaks are induced by insecticides. Farmers in Thailand’s rice bowl in the Central Plains have been suffering from BPH outbreaks in the last 8 consecutive seasons since 2008 and have incurred financial losses and fallen into debts. In January 2010 the government cut 16% of the rice output forecast. The lax pesticide marketing regulations and the huge insecticide imports of well over US$ 120 million per annum have promoted rampant insecticide misuses. The two dominant insecticides rice farmers use in rice are cypermetrin and abamectin (Read: resurgence causing insecticides) and they have high toxicity to bees and hymenopteran parasitoids. Farmers seem motivated to apply them because of lack of knowledge and advertising campaigns using emotional appeals.
Working with the Rice Department and IRRI, the Thai Agro Business Association (TABA), initiated a campaign to stop the use of cypermethrin and abamectin in rice fields in order to control the continuous BPH outbreaks. Dr Weerawooth Katanyukul, TABA president and Sujin Chantarasa, the vice president, are in full support of this campaign providing funds for the production of campaign materials. Both entomologists, they fully appreciate the devastating effects the two insecticides have on natural enemies. In particular Dr Sujin, who did his PhD with the late Professor Yatsumatsu of Kyushu University and studied planthopper egg parasitoids, fully appreciate how cypermethrin and abamectin make rice fields vulnerable to planthopper attacks when the parasitization functions are destroyed.
The “Stop use of cypermethrin and abamectin” campaign was launched by the Dr Apichart Pongsrihadulchai, the advisor to the minister of agriculture on behalf of the minister in the opening ceremony of the 2011 National Rice Conference held in Amari Hotel, 3 – 4 June 2011. In an IRRI news release Dr Robert Zeigler, the director general of IRRI lauded the action of the Rice Department to stop the use of resurgence causing insecticides, such as cypermethrin and abamectin, in rice.
In The Nation reporting on the Rice Conference, expresses concerns over the uncertain prospects of Thailand’s capability to retain the number expert status in the next 5 to 10 years because of inadequate policies. Vietnam has the “Three Reductions Three Gains” policy developed in collaboration with IRRI to make her more competitive. At the same time the Thai government has planned a fertilizer reduction campaign to halve fertilizer use (Read Bangkok Post).