Poonsak Mekwatanakarn, Rice Department, Bangkok, Thailand and
Sivapragasam, CABI Southeast Asia, Serdang, Malaysia
In September 2012, the PLANTWISE pilot project for Thailand rice pest management was approved. PLANTWISE modules for rice were developed and in May 2013, the first training of “plant doctors” was conducted. Fifteen plant doctors underwent 2 weeks of training in methods in pest and disease diagnoses, running of plant clinics, communication skills with farmers and reporting findings from farmers. The Rice Department has since initiated 7 plant clinics including 3 mobile units for rice pest management in 3 regions.
In the review and planning meeting held on 1 October 2013, PLANTWISE participants from Thailand, CABI SE Asia and IRRI developed plans for the next 6 months. In field reports, plant doctors shared experiences especially on diagnosis difficulties. In many cases farmers had not provided plant samples and were verbally describing their problems. In addition plant doctors have also encountered new problems, such as the bakanae disease and did not have sufficient knowledge to provide recommendations from the diagnosis. Fact sheets of key pest and disease problems, to be translated into Thai, were prepared by the team and these will provide additional information to farmers. As the local terms for pests used vary from province to province, fact sheets would need to be adapted accordingly.
PLANTWISE is a framework for sustainable plant protection that will empower farmers in making informed decisions in handling pest problems. It consists of 3 basic components, information/data base, diagnostics and accreditation. Since farmers often rely on pesticide dealers on plant protection matters, it is important that pesticide dealers have better accreditation. In consultation with Dr Weerawooth Katanyukul, past president and advisor to the Thai Agro Business Association (TABA) a consultation workshop on developing a Pesticide Dealers’ Accreditation Program was developed to be held in mid December 2013. This initiative will be a first towards professionalizing plant protection services to address the call made in the ADB Working Paper #27 (link to ) to fix the insecticide misuses that are threatening Asian rice farming and food security. The stakeholders to be invited to this workshop will include TABA, CropLife SE Asia, Pesticides Board Malaysia, Thai Crop Protection Association (TCPA), Thai Department of Agriculture and an expert on dealers’ accreditation from either Europe or Australia. For out-scaling the Thai pilot project experiences to other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), an experience sharing workshop that will involve rice plant protection specialists from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam is being planned to be conducted in the first quarter of 2014.