Cheng Jiaan, Zhu Zeng-Rong, Lou Yonggen, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
Lu Zhongxian, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou, China
Monina Escalada, Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines, and
K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
The ADB-IRRI Rice Planthopper Project together with Zhejiang University (ZJU) and Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZAAS) held the international conference to address issues related to ecology, management, socio economics and policy. The Conference brought together researches of the Project, the works of Japanese, Korean and Chinese laboratories. Most of the Chinese works were funded by the 973 project funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology initiated in 2009 to link with the ADB-funded Planthopper project. Professor Zhang Guoping, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Environment delivered the welcome remarks and together with Dr Robert Zeigler presented a plaque of a new spider species named in honor of Professor Cheng Jiaan. In his keynote address, Dr Zeigler, DG of IRRI, outlined the challenges ahead to reduce poverty and protect the environment. A pest like the planthopper can be a major threat to the sustainability of intensive production if not well managed. Professor Cheng spoke on the evolution of the planthopper problems in China in the last half century and emphasized that in the last 10 years the problems have worsened. Planthoppers have increased damages, insecticide use has increased and insecticide resistance escalated. There were 43 papers and 50 posters presented at the Conference, ranging from basic research like sequencing the planthopper genome to applied research like ecological engineering. A total of 166 participants from Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, IRRI and FAO attended the 3-day Conference.
K.L. Heong spoke on the devastations caused by the return of the Green Revolution pest, the planthoppers that are now causing more crop losses than in the 1970s and 1980s. He attributed the root cause of the increased threat to the insecticide misuse promoted by unregulated pesticide marketing as FMCGs. The presentation of Professor Andi Trisyono as well as Dr K. Sogawa also attributed to the recent return of planthopper problems to insecticide misuses. Planthoppers have been continuously causing serious crop losses in Thailand for the 11th consecutive seasons as reported by Ms Witchuda Rattankarn and an economic analysis done by economist, Ms Tiwaporn Sutthiwongse quantified the 2010 dry season crop loss to be more than US$50 million at farm gate price.
Professor Geoff Gurr gave a nice overview of ecological engineering approaches around the world and emphasized the potential of using ecological engineering for rice. Presentations by Drs Ho Van Chien, Zhu Zeng Rong, Monina Escalada, and Lu Zhong Xian described successes in implementing ecological engineering in Vietnam and China. Professor Geoff Norton, President of the International Association of Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS) discussed the need to be broad for research to address the right problem and issues and not be entrapped in tackling the wrong problem. Dr Heong et al used data from more than 5000 households to analyze the relationship between yields and number of insecticide applications ans question if there is any productivity gain from insecticide applications and Dr Larry Wong pointed out that pesticides which are poisons are being “pushed” through the supply chain with misinformation and is driving the misuse. Dr. Escalada et al described the media campaign process to upscale ecological engineering practices using bees to communicate parasitoids to farmers in Vietnam.
A film called “Hopper Race” produced by Ms Juka Kawaai of TVE Japan in collaboration with IRRI was launched at the Conference. The first part of 5 chapters depicts the BPH describing the issues surrounding the problem and in part 2 to be released in December 2012 the film discusses ecological solutions to combat the BPH problem. The highlight of the second part is the interview of a woman in tears because her husband had committed suicide because of the repeated crop failures and the debts he had incurred. The film is in English and will be translated into several Asian languages. Details are available from www.tvejapan.org.
At the Conference a book in Chinese titled Ecological Engineering for Pest Management in Rice, edited by Dr. Zhu Zeng Rong et al and published by the China Agriculture Press was distributed. Awareness materials such as posters and Zhejiang Daily report discussing basic ecological principles and biodiversity were also available. More information can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org .