K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines,
Monina Escalada, Visayas State University, Philippines,
Ho Van Chien, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Vietnam and
Nguyen Van Toan, An Giang Plant Protection Sub Department, Long Xuyen, Vietnam
Elements of the “Three Reductions, Three Gains” (3R3G) locally called “Ba Giam Ba Tang” program were first conceptualized in 2001. This was a follow up from the successful campaign to reduce insecticide use in the first 40 days after sowing using the incremental approach. A total of 951 farmers were invited to evaluate these three elements in 2001-2002 rice seasons. In paired comparisons, rice production areas that used the 3R3G elements, had higher profits, US$58 per hectare in the winter–spring and US$35 in the summer–autumn seasons, respectively. Savings from insecticide reduction constituted 80% of the profits. An independent impact assessment by Huelgas and Templeton 2010 showed that 3R3G adopters were more cost effective and increased farmers’ per capita income. In 2003, two media campaigns to motivate farmers in the Mekong to adopt 3R3G practices were launched in Can Tho City and My Tho City (Heong et al 2008). In 2004, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) officially adopted Ba Giam Ba Tang as a national policy and provinces were allocated funds to implement it. In the pre – post campaign analyses, insecticide sprays were found to have reduced by 13– 33% while seed rates dropped about 10% and nitrogen rates about 7%. By 2008, An Giang Department of Agriculture announced that Ba Giam Ba Tang had reached about 85% of the province and went further to extend the concept to “5 Reductions” but had not launched a media campaign to promote it.
Table 1: Guidelines for “Three Reductions, Three Gains” for wide scale implementation
[table id=26 /]
Between 2010 and 2012 we collected on farm data in Tien Giang and An Giang to monitor changes in farmer practices after launching of ecological engineering. We incorporated variables related to farmers’ insecticide spray number, their nitrogen and seed rates to determine if the individual had in fact practiced the respective elements in 3R3G as should in the Table 1.
Table 2 shows the proportion of farmers who had practiced each of the 3 elements, two of them and all three. Nitrogen use seemed to be within the 3R3G range as 88% of the respondents in Tien Giang and 43 to 49 % in An Giang were applying 120 kg/ha or less. About 46 – 56% of the farmers in Tien Giang and 60 – 65% in An Giang did not spray any insecticides in the first 40 days. However only 3 – 12% of the respondents in Tien Giang and 4 – 5% in An Giang stayed within the seed rate of 100 kg./ha or less. Farmers were using 200 to 350 kg/ha seed rates in their direct seeding before the 3R3G campaigns were launched and it seemed difficult for many to shift to less than 50% of what they had been using. In the 2004 assessment we found that although farmers’ seed rates had declined by 10% they were still applying between 170 – 210 kg/ha.
Table 2: Proportion of farmers surveyed whose practices were within the 3R3G guidelines in Tien Giang and An Giang.
A: Tien Giang
[table id=27 /]
B: An Giang
[table id=28 /]
The recommendation to use less than 100 kg/ha of seeds for crop establishment was developed in the experimental station based on using high quality seeds with high germination rates. However high quality seeds might not be readily available for farmers in the rural areas and most farms were not as well leveled as expected. Farmers tended to adapt guidelines to suit their own conditions by using higher seed rates. Thus it will be necessary for MARD to revisit the 3R3G seed rate of 100kg/ha and develop a level that farmers can achieve.
Farmers who did one of the practices within the guidelines were high. For instance, between 89 % of the farmers in Tien Giang and 43 – 49% in An Giang were using 120 kg/ha of nitrogen or less and 46 – 56% in Tien Giang and 60 – 65% of the farmers did not apply insecticides in the first 40 days after sowing. Very few farmers did not use any insecticides, only 11 – 19% in Tien Giang and 1 – 2% in An Giang which is not consistent to FAO’s contention that “Most tropical rice crops under intensification require NO insecticide use”, IRRI’s research conclusion that “rice pest management should be based on the contention that insecticides are NOT needed rather than they are and only to be used when pests are “guilty” and only as the last resort”and Way and Heong. Farmers practicing reductions in both nitrogen and insecticides reductions to within 3R3G guidelines were appreciably higher in Tien Giang, 41 – 49% compared with 25 – 33% of the respondents in An Giang.
Discontinuance is a decision to reject a practice after having previously adopted it (See Escalada et al 2009). The phenomenon is especially rapid when there is abundance of conflicting messages in the pest management information supply chain and local retailers are the main information sources and in situations where the FAO code of conduct on pesticide marketing and distribution is violated. In the Mekong Delta, pesticide advertisements urging farmers to spray their crops are repeated endlessly to attract new customers and reassuring current ones. Repetition creates direct relationships between product and fulfillment of customers’ needs. Thus if pesticide marketing and advertising are not properly managed the situation would be like a “house with no roof” and 3R3G practices will eventually be eroded away. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Circular # 18 to improve pesticide marketing is in the right direction. After more than nine years since 3R3G was launched in 2003 repeat campaigns to revitalize 3R3G will be needed to reduce farmers’ practice discontinuance to ensure the sustainability of current success in planthopper management.
Rogers EM. 1995. Diffusion of innovations. 4th Ed. New York: The Free Press.