Ho Van Chien, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Vietnam
M.M. Escalada, Visayas State University, Leyte, Philippines
International Women’s Day is celebrated yearly on 8 March. This year Tien Giang province, working with IRRI and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), launched the “Women in Ecological Engineering (E–E)” program to upscale the growing of nectar rich flowers on the rice bunds. Flowers on bunds are aimed at restoring local biodiversity of parasitoids and predator that utilize these habitats for food and shelter. In September 2010, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Bui Ba Bong, launched the Ecological Engineering Initiative in My Tho that introduced the E–E concept. The An Giang province followed by launching a provincial wide program. Researchers found that rice farms with flowers on the bunds have higher parasitoid biodiversity, higher egg parasitism of planthopper eggs, higher densities of the egg predator and had less insecticide inputs. Ecologists publishing in SCIENCE and NATURE also concur that higher plant diversity is needed to maintain ecosystem services.
The women in ecological engineering program has trained 200 women from 10 districts in Tien Giang who will initiate village level ecological engineering fields through the women’s organization. Speaking at the opening of the launch, the vice chairperson of the People’s Committee, Madame Tran Kim Mai said that Tien Giang welcomes such ecological approaches to build biodiversity and women farmers’ capacity. More than 400 participants (70% women) attended the launch where women farmer teams competed in building models of ecological engineering and quiz shows. The first prize went to Cho Gao district women farmers who received 2 million Vietnamese dong in prize money. Dr Thelma Paris, IRRI’s gender specialist, spoke about the key roles rural women play serving as wives, mothers, household chores, children’s education as well as farm work, such as harvesting, weeding and planting. In numerous cases, women also perform pesticide spraying putting their health and lives at risk.
The event was funded by the provincial government and organized by the Southern Regional Plant Protection Center in collaboration with the local women’s union. Speaking in the launch the chairperson of the women’s union, Madame Nguyen Thi Sang expressed the importance of involving women in farm activities. The growing of flowers in ecological engineering will have a special appeal to women. In his closing remarks, Dr Nguyen Xuan Hong, Director General of Plant Protection Department (PPD), Hanoi said that the program will restore biodiversity and ecosystem services into the rice landscape. The involvement of women will further enhance the efforts to increase ecosystem services and reduce pesticides. Rice production in the Mekong is most important as it contributes 80% of the exports and develop ecosystems that will sustain production will be vital.
Further link http://goo.gl/78AXM