K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
About 75% of East Java province’s 170,000 ha of rice are badly infested by planthoppers and more than 22,000 ha suffered “puso”, crop failure (see http://www.beritajatim.com/detailnews.php/6/Politik_&_Pemerintahan/2011-07-23/106948 ). Among the varieties farmers are growing is IR 64. Pesticides in Indonesia are sold as FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and farmers have been motivated to use prophylactic insecticide sprays of 5 to 8 times a season. Production loss is expected to be about 15-20%. There are indications of reduced grain supplies to the mills and increase in local rice price. Mass spraying of insecticides financed by the provincial government has been implemented. BPH outbreaks are insecticide induced and the scientific mechanisms are well established. Mass spraying of insecticides will be like pouring gasoline into fire, making the situation worse. A US professor Merle Shepard strongly urged Indonesia to stop insecticide use immediately. He had earlier posted “History Repeats Itself” recalling the similar situation Indonesia had experienced in the 1980s. However since that time although millions of US$ had been spent in IPM FFS training, insecticide imports has escalated. Insecticide import values increased by more than 50 folds from 1990 to 2008 and the number of local pesticide kiosks grew markedly.
In Thailand when planthopper outbreaks started in 2008 the government released US$20 million for mass spraying and this was followed by widespread outbreaks for the next 2 years. The government has lost well over US$280 million because of planthopper outbreaks. Recently the government launched a campaign to stop the use of some outbreak causing pesticides to restore biodiversity and explored for alternatives to stop insecticide misuse.
The massive insecticide spraying going on in Indonesia will continuously threaten rice production as ecosystem services are destroyed and fields are vulnerable to planthopper outbreaks. This can eventually lead to the tipping point and into a deeper crisis.