Nguyen Huu Huan, Vice Director General, Plant Protection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Insecticide misuse is one of the major causes of planthopper outbreaks. Lately insecticide induced planthopper outbreaks has caused considerable losses in rice production in Thailand, Indonesia, and China ). In addition there are serious health and environmental consequences from the excessive use of pesticides. A resolution on rice paddy and pesticide usage was tabled at the recent Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands “Wetlands: home and destination” in Bucharest, Romania, 6-13 July 2012. In Thailand recently the Foundation of Consumers expressed deep concern as vegetables sold in Bangkok’s supermarkets have high residues of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide, banned in many countries but continues to be used in rice. In 2011 chlorpyrifos used to control bed bugs in the Chiangmai Hotel killed a few tourists.
In December 2011, IRRI in collaboration with FAO organized an International Conference to address the threat of insecticide misuse to the sustainability of rice production. IRRI launched the Action Plan for Preventing Planthopper Outbreaks in Rice (link to ) that calls on governments to improve pesticide regulations, especially in marketing and distribution.
Pesticides in most ASEAN countries are being sold using FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) marketing strategies. As in soap powder, cosmetics, soft drinks and shampoos, the marketing of pesticides are also driven by aggressive advertising with emotional appeals. Plant protection department (PPD) of Vietnam is taking steps towards regulating pesticide advertising to be closer in line with developed nations, like Australia, the European Union and the USA, to curb misuse and “professionalize” plant protection services. Such regulations will help protect farmers from being sold wrong pesticides or pesticides with questionable efficacies that induce planthopper outbreaks or pesticides that will harm their health or spray unnecessarily.
In an interview with Bao Nong Nghiep Viet Nam, (English translation available) newspaper for agriculture, Dr Nguyen Xuan Hong, the Director General of PPD said that “the goal of the company is to sell pesticides, increase market share and revenue and will pay less attention to the interests of people. The loopholes in pesticide marketing regulations are being exploited. For instance, PPD recommends farmers not to apply insecticides in the first 40 days after sowing, but companies encourage farmers to do otherwise”.
The director of Plant Protection of An Giang, Nguyen Huu An, also supports the call for regulating pesticide advertising. He said that farmers are often influenced by company’s advertising campaigns.
Dr Hong further emphasized that to help farmers the first thing is to increase awareness and understanding of farmers, through mass media such as radio, TV and newspapers. Secondly, there is need to establish strong linkages between government agencies and media and improve communication to farmers. Thirdly and most importantly is to restructure pesticide market and endorse stricter rules on advertising on pesticide use and strengthen inspection and control. These provisions will be available in the new circular replacing the current circular # 38. Pesticide companies that violate the regulations will be announced in the media.