International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
In the last 5 years the rice planthoppers, both the brown planthopper (BPH) and the white back planthopper (WBPH) have been causing huge damages to rice production. Thousands of farmers have suffered crop failure and had fallen in debt. The two hoppers are vectors of 3 virus diseases that are spreading throughout Asia. Thailand’s rice bowl has been suffering considerable crop losses from BPH attacks since 2008 and in August 2011 populations are once again very high. In Indonesia large areas in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Bali have been reported seriously damaged. The response was “Operasi Mandi Pestisida” aimed at showering rice with pesticides to eradicate the planthoppers. Such operations in the 1980s were the main actions taken but were unsuccessful as “history repeats itself”.
It is well known that planthopper outbreaks are induced by insecticide misuse that is caused by markets that are poorly regulated . The misuse, especially prophylactic sprays of resurgence causing insecticides, disrupts normal ecosystem functions and makes rice fields vulnerable to outbreaks. Invading planthoppers are “released” from the regulatory ecosystem services, like pest regulation and invasion resistance and multiply exponentially into outbreak proportions. In June 2011 the Thai government together with the pesticide industry association launched a national wide campaign to stop the use of abamectin and cypermethrin in rice as these resurgence causing insecticides are frequently “prescribed” to farmers. This action was applauded by IRRI Director General. In a press release Dr R. Zeigler said “It is of international significance that Thailand will undertake this initiative because, as the world’s largest exporter of rice, it is recognized as a global leader in the rice industry”.
Recently IRRI released the action plan to prevent planthopper outbreaks in rice urging governments, the pesticide industry, non government organizations and civil society to work together towards reducing pesticide misuse through
A: Enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem resilience to restore ecosystem services
B: Improving pesticide regulations, marketing and use of insecticides in rice fields
This action plan can be download free from:
The Thai Rice Department is taking the lead in actively implementing the action plan by intensifying the upscaling of ecological engineering methods and launching more campaigns to stop the use of abamectin and cypermethrin. The governor of Chainat province with support from the Thai Agro Business Association (TABA) will launch an intensive provincial wide program on 26 September 2011 to stop the use of abamectin and cypermethrin in rice. In August, the brown planthopper populations increased by more than 50,000 folds in some areas.
In the Mekong Delta, authorities are also advocating the use of ecological engineering to build up ecosystem resilience and continuing to emphasize the practices of Ba Giam Ba Tang (Three Reductions Three Gains) to minimize insecticide misuse.
BPH outbreaks in Bali, Indonesia
BPH outbreaks in Sulawesi, Indonesia