Chien, H.V., Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Vietnam
An, Nguyen Huu, Thong, Cao Vinh & Toan, Nguyen Van, Plant Protection Sub-Department of An Giang Province, Long Xuyen, An Giang
Ecological engineering is a process to restore biodiversity, ecosystem services and resilience to rice production systems to reduce vulnerability to pest otbreaks. There are two main components in ecological engineering: landscape modification to increase biodiversity and minimizing disruptions by pesticides that reduce biodiversity. In Chinese philosophy this is the act of balancing the “yin” and “yang” forces. Pest outbreaks are the result of imbalance favoring the “yin” forces thus inducing the abnormal developments of insects with r-strategies, like the planthoppers.
Ecosystem services are benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems and in rice cultivation, a vital service they provide is, of course, provisioning of rice, fish, honey and fruits. In addition rice ecosystems also provide regulatory services, like pollination and biological control, as well as cultural services, like aesthetic , educational, recreation and ecotourism values. Just as important are the supporting services such as soil enhancement, where soil augmentation techniques like increasing microbial biodiversity, might be beneficial (Read: Millennium Assessment Report 2005). Recently a new project called LEGATO was launched to assess these values, both monetary and non monetary, that rice ecosystems in Asia are providing to communities.
In An Giang the ecological engineering initiative (Cong Nghe Sihn Thai) was launched in March 2011, followed by upscaling activities. In many villages flowers grown along the bunds were constantly being picked by passerby for home decoration. To prevent flower poaching so as to protect both the cultural and regulatory services, farmers in An Phu put up a “Do Not Pick Flowers” sign board.
In addition, negotiations between IRRI, TV Vinh Long and the Southern Regional Plant Protection Center have been initiated to develop a TV drama series using entertainment education principles. Building on previous success in using radio soap opera, this new series on “Cong Nghe Sinh Thai TV” will provide details on ecosystem services from rice fields and will include provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services that will be written into soap opera dialogues. Entertainment education has also been used successfully in social change programs on HIV/AIDS prevention, birth control and domestic violence to cultivate new social norms. The main aim of the new TV series is to cultivate new norms in valuing and appreciating biodiversity, ecosystem services and the environment. The first episode was broadcast over TV Vinh Long in March 2011.