Monina Escalada, Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines and
K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
On 13 March 2013 Vietnam lost a visionary and prime mover of change in plant protection concept and practices. Dr Nguyen Huu Huan, vice director general of Plant Protection Department passed away after battling with liver cancer for a few months.
Dr. Huan helped thousands of rice farmers in the Mekong reduce unnecessary insecticide inputs and spending. In 1993 he implemented in collaboration with IRRI a campaign to encourage farmers to stop spraying insecticides in the first 40 days after sowing. Farmers reduced insecticide use by 53%, increased their profits and also reduced vulnerability to planthopper outbreaks. This work won the St Andrews Prize for Environment.
He further introduced “Ba Giam Ba Tang” (3 reductions, 3 gains) to help farmers to gain more profits by reducing seed and fertilizer rates. This program became a national initiative and has significantly improved rice production in the Mekong. In 2007 to combat the spread of planthopper vectored virus diseases, he pioneered the “Escape Strategy” which together with Ba Giam Ba Tang contributed towards the control of planthopper outbreaks. Dr Huan’s work and commitment to improve rice production has contributed towards Vietnam’s rapid growth in rice exports. In 2005 he was awarded the Golden Rice Award.
Vietnam lost a valuable scientist who has farmers’ welfare embedded in his heart. His contributions will go on unforgotten. The Vietnamese Government honored him with 2 Gold Medals (second and third class labor medals).
We have lost a dear friend, a valuable research partner and will always treasure the fond memories of visiting farmers, conducting field research, analyzing data and working on papers.