Project news

Project partners plan communication strategy to scale up ecological engineering in China, Thailand and Vietnam

Posted March 31, 2010


On March 25-26, project partners from China, Thailand and Vietnam were brought together in a workshop at the Grand Mercure Fortune Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand, to design a communication strategy and develop messages, prototype media, and an implementation plan to reach thousands of farmers and policy makers with simplified ecological engineering messages tailored to address knowledge and attitude gaps.

Dr. Samlee Boonyaviwat, Assistant Director-General of the Rice Department,  on behalf of Mr. Prasert Gosalvitra, their Director-General, formally opened the workshop with a welcome address. In her speech, Dr. Boonyaviwat expressed her gratitude to ADB and IRRI for initiating the workshop which will help those involved in the project, particularly, the Rice Department staff to develop more efficient ways to help farmers deal with the planthopper outbreaks. Thailand  Rice production in Thailand has suffered one of the biggest losses with at least 1.1 million tons paddy or export potential of US$ 275 million estimated to have been lost as the government had to revise its  rice output forecasts by about 16% from 8.3 to 7.0 million tons in January 2010.

A total of 36 research partners from China, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the workshop conducted by three resource persons from IRRI, Australia and the Philippines. After the opening session, Dr. K.L. Heong, principal investigator, introduced the project’s background and concepts. Dr. Monina Escalada, Output 4 coordinator, presented the workshop objectives and expected outputs and the framework for communication strategy development while Dr. Geoff Gurr tackled how to simplify ecological engineering concepts for extension and farmers. As outlined in the program, results of farmer surveys in China, Thailand and Vietnam as well as farmer participatory research on ecological engineering in China and Vietnam were presented.

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Hainan Project to conserve arthropod biodiversity and ecosystem system services launched

by
K.L. Heong
Principal Investigator
Hainan Biodiversity Conservation Project

The Inception and Consultation workshop of the Hainan Project was held in Hai Kou Wuzhishan International Hotel, Hainan, China on 22-23 March 2010. This project, a partnership between IRRI, Kadoorie Charitable Foundation (KFC) based in Hong Kong, Hainan University and the National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Center (NATESC), has parallel activities as in Output 3 of the Rice Planthopper Project.  The Hainan Project will assess biodiversity and ecosystems services in rice environments, understand farmers’ knowledge, attitude and practices with regard to biodiversity conservation and develop strategies for conservation.

Dr. Xia Jingyuan, Director General of NATESC gave the keynote address and Prof. Dr. Xiaoping Diao, Vice President, Hainan University, delivered the welcome remarks. Mr. Ronald Li represented the KCF.  Dr. KL Heong, the principal investigator of the project introduced the project concepts and emphasized that the launching of this project was most fitting because 2010 has been declared by the UN as the International Year for Biodiversity. Dr. M. Escalada discussed the concepts, activities and uses of a farmer survey on biodiversity conservation knowledge, attitudes and practice in Hainan.

The workshop developed a workplan that will include a study tour for Hainan partners to Zhejiang to observe the ecological engineering site in Jin Hua, a 2 week training course on arthropod taxonomy to be held in Danzhou campus of Hainan University, a training on sociological tools and focus group discussions and initial exploration sampling of rice ecosystems.

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Chinese and Vietnamese scientists trained on management of new rice virus disease, Southern Rice Black Streak Dwarf Virus

by
Ta Hoang Anh
Virologist, Plant Protection Research Institute
Hanoi, Vietnam

Participants of the training on SRBSDV monitoring in Hanoi

The China-IRRI-Vietnam Consortium established by Vice Minister, Dr Bui Ba , in December 2009 (https://ricehoppers.net/2010/01/08/consortium-initiated-to-research-on-new-virus-disease-southern-rice-black-streak-dwarf-virus/) to tackle the new rice problem, trained plant protection staff in Hanoi on 4–6 February 2010.  A total of 36 participants from the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI), Plant Protection Department (PPD), Regional Plant Protection Centers and the Post Entry Quarantine Center and the Quarantine Diagnostic Center took part in the two-day training. Resource persons were from China — Dr Zhang Hengmu, Dr Yang Jian of Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZAAS) — and Vietnam — Ta Hoang Anh and Dr Pham Hong Hien of PPRI. The training covered field identification of the new virus, its vector, the white back planthopper (WBPH) and the use of RT-PCR for virus detection, and also included a field trip to collect and identify virus infected rice and maize plants. The trained staff will participate in monitoring planthoppers and the virus in their respective centers in the consortium.

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Arthopod biodiversity, taxonomy and identification workshop at IRRI
1-12 March 2010
posted on 2 March 2010

A workshop on “Arthropod biodiversity, taxonomy and identification” is now going on at IRRI, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines from March 1-12, 2010. Bringing together participants from China, Thailand, and Vietnam, the workshop aims to address knowledge gaps of partner countries on arthropod sorting and identification.

Dr. Alberto T. Barrion, renowned insect taxonomist, formerly with IRRI and ICIPE and currently with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is the lead resource person. Dr. Barrion will be assisted by J. Catindig, S. Letana, and S. Villareal of the Entomology Unit of the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division.

Participants will learn how to identify the major diagnostic features of the most common and important arthropod orders, families and species, especially insects and spiders in the rice agricultural landscape using taxonomic keys. They will also be taught skills on how to handle and preserve arthropods for identification.

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1st Review and Planning Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City
30 Nov – 3 Dec. 2009


In October 2008 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a project under the 13th RETA program (Regional Technical Assistance) entitled “Bringing about a Sustainable Agronomic Revolution in Rice Production in Asia by Reducing Preventable Pre- and Postharvest Losses” (RETA 6489) with two components to address these two issues:

A. Subcomponent 1. Reducing vulnerability of crops to preharvest losses caused  by planthopper outbreaks.

B. Subcomponent 2. Reducing postharvest losses and increasing income by producing better‐quality rice.

RETA 13 started implementation in November 2008 with inception and consultation workshop to develop workplans.  This workshop is the first review and planning workshop and its primary objectives are:

  • To review activities planned for 2008/2009.
  • To identify constraints and make adjustments to research procedures and activities to meet output objectives.
  • To develop continuation of activities and plan new activities for 2010.
  • Develop timeline of activities for 2010.

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Geoff Gurr interviewed by Radio Australia
posted on 21 October 2009

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Professor Geoff Gurr

Professor Geoff Gurr of Charles Sturt University, a pioneer in ecological engineering for pest management was interviewed over Radio Australia about the Rice Planthopper Project.  The news release is available in: http://news.csu.edu.au/director/latestnews/Agriculture_and_Food_Production.cfm?itemID=0D657AFDBBB5505A68A1AF9D39567E33&printtemplate=release

The broadcast will be on Radio Australia on 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 25th November, after which it will be loaded onto our internet site.

You can access the radio interviews through www.radioaustralia.net.au/innovations.

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Rice Planthopper Project brochure

posted on 19 September 2009

Rice planthopper project brochure

Rice planthopper project brochure

The Project team has put together a brochure of the Rice Planthopper project (picture above).  To download it, click here.

The brochure describes briefly the project’s rationale, objectives, activities, research collaboration and funding partners involved.

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Student enumerators, plant protection staff trained on survey procedures in Long Dinh, Vietnam
posted on 28 July 2009

Training participants, Long Dinh, Vietnam

Training participants, Long Dinh, Vietnam

As well as in Long Dinh, Tien Giang province, 12 college students from Nong Lam University were trained on survey procedures and pretested the survey questionnaire on 20-21 July 2009.

Training participants

Training participants

K.L. Heong stressing the purpose of the baseline survey

K.L. Heong stressing the purpose of the baseline survey

Survey team learning survey data analysis

Survey team learning survey data analysis

Training participants also included six plant protection staff from Cai Be and Cai Lay districts and three staff of the Southern Regional Plant Protection Center. The training covered survey sites and logistics, how to conduct the farmer interview and an item by item review of the questionnaire.

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Nong Lam University student enumerators

Nong Lam University students

Nong Lam University students

After the questionnaire review, students went to the field to each interview a farmer. They were instructed to take note of the duration of the interview, the questions that the farmer found difficult to understand, and his own feelings and the spontaneous reactions of respondents.

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Student enumerators trained on survey procedures in Jinhua, China
posted on 5 July 2009

Interviewer training participants with resource persons, Jinhua, China

Training participants with resource persons and project partners

As a quality assurance step, 14 college students from Jinhua College in Zhejiang province were trained on survey procedures and pretested the survey questionnaire on 2-3 July 2009.  Training participants also included two Jinhua College faculty members and three plant protection staff from Guangxi province who will lead the survey team. The training covered survey sites and logistics, how to conduct the farmer interview and an item by item review of the questionnaire.  After the questionnaire review, students went to the field to each interview a farmer. They were instructed to take note of the duration of the interview, the questions that farmers found difficult to understand, and his own feelings and the spontaneous reactions of respondents.

KL Heong introducing the planthopper project

KL Heong introducing the planthopper project

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Dr. Zhu Zeng Rong translating M. Escalada's presentation

Jinhua training participants

Jinhua students reviewing the questionnaire

Ms. Huang Zhue-Ping explaining the attitude scale

Ms. Zhue-Ping Huang discussing the questionnaire corrections to be made

While the students were in the field pretesting the questionnaire, the survey team from Jinhua and Guangxi were briefed on data entry rules, reviewed and finalized the codebook and develop the data entry template in Excel.

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Research partners trained in ecological engineering
posted on 17 June  2009

Planthopper proj cover Eco China FRONT

A training-workshop on “Ecological Engineering and Research Methods for Rice Pest Management was held at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China on May 25-29. The training-workshop aimed to develop sustainable ways to prevent planthopper outbreaks by protecting ecosystem services using ecological engineering tools. A total of 30 researchers, extension officials and university lecturers from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam participated in the workshop.

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In his opening address, Dr. Xia Jingyuan, Director General of the National Agro-tech Extension and Service Center (NATESC) emphasized that the major constraint in China’s rice production is the planthopper outbreaks due to overuse of pesticides. He stressed that one way to restore ecosystem services is through ecological engineering. He challenged the Chinese participants to realize the importance of this project, to work seriously to achieve good results and to take full responsibility in following the standard procedure that will be developed during the training- workshop.

Dr. K.L. Heong presented the rice planthopper project by tracing the events leading to its birth in November 2008. He also introduced the concepts of ecosystem services, DPSIR framework and assessment methods. He stressed the importance of protecting ecosystem services in rice systems through insecticide reduction. The main purpose of ecological engineering is to restore or build ecosystem services and resilience to build crop health or system immunity. His talk was followed by Prof. Geoff Gurr of the Charles Sturt University who discussed basic concepts, research methods and the prospects of using ecological engineering in rice. Dr. Tomas Murray, an expert on pollination from Ireland, provided methods for assessing pollinator diversity and Dr. Finbarr Horgan of IRRI discussed the importance and methods of insect trappings.

Prof. Jiaan Cheng of Zhejiang University presented the current dilemma of China’s pesticide industry and the need for reform. Various ecological research methods were presented by Dr.  Zhongxian Lu, Dr. Zeng Rong Zhu and Dr. Yong-gen Lou.

Dr. Heong is showing participants the aquatic samples collected from the rice field.

Dr. Heong is showing participants the aquatic samples collected from the rice field.

Vietnamese participants during the planning exercise.

Vietnamese participants during the planning exercise.

Thai participants with Dr. Norowi from Malaysia discussing their work plans.

Thai participants with Dr. Norowi from Malaysia discussing their work plans.

Chinese participants discuss their work plans for Jinhu and Guilin

Chinese participants discuss their work plans for Jinhua and Guilin

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Final Output 4 in-country workshop held in China
posted on 19 May 2009

Planthopper proj cover China

On May 11-15, the final in-country workshop-training course on “Decision making and sociological tools in pest management” was held at the Shan Shui hotel in Guilin, Guangxi province. Field work was carried out in Lin Gui county. Dr. Xia Jingyuan, Director-General of the National Agro-tech Extension and Service Center (NATESC) of the Ministry of Agriculture, China, formally opened the workshop/training with a welcome address. In his speech, Dr. Xia expressed her gratitude to ADB and IRRI for selecting Guangxi and Zhejiang provinces as the experimental site for the project. Dr. Xia stressed that the planthoppers remains one of China’s most destructive pests of rice. They know that this problem will continue to be serious unless they find a sustainable means of control. China has been using pesticides and is now facing problems of resistance and other ecological problems. This new imitative of IRRI brings in a holistic way using eco engineering methods.  Some of these ideas are new to China and Dr. Xia hoped that they will learn quickly and try them. Farmers will depend on them to find the solutions and he hoped everyone will work hard in the project.

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Guilin workshop photo

A total of 24 plant protection officials and local leaders in Guangxi province and NATESC, university and college associate professors from Zhejiang province, and directors of agricultural bureaus in  participated in the workshop-training. Professor Cheng Jiaan and Dr. Zhu Zeng-Rong of Zhejiang University served as workshop interpreters and helped facilitate the group sessions.

After the opening session, Dr. Heong, principal investigator, presented the background of the project and the expected outputs. This was followed by a description of the workshop/training objectives and expected outcomes by Dr. Escalada, Output 4 coordinator.

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Focus group discussion with farmers in Cha Dong township, Lin Gui county, Guangzi province, China

Individual interview with rice farmer, Cha Dong township

Individual interview with rice farmer, Cha Dong township

Preparing refreshment for FGD

Preparing refreshment for FGD

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Toxicology and insecticide resistance training held in IRRI
posted on 15 May 2009

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Twelve junior scientists participated in the workshop/training on toxicology and insecticide resistance in IRRI, Philippines on 27 April – 1 May, 2009.

Dr. K. L. Heong, the principal investigator, formally opened the workshop and the IRRI Director General, Dr. Robert Zeigler, delivered the welcome address.

Dr. K.H. Tan, an insect physiologist, provided a refresher lecture on insect biochemistry, physiology, insecticide classification and their modes of action. The metabolic processes provide an understanding of how insecticide affects the insects in general. The appropriate use of insecticides may provide solutions or delay the development of resistance.

Ms L. Fabellar, Dr. Z. Lu and Dr. M. Matsumura presented the collection and rearing of planthoppers in IRRI, China and Japan, respectively.  According to the speakers, the standardization of insecticide resistance techniques should start from the collection and rearing methods of planthoppers.

Ms. L. Molina, manager of the IRRI analytical service laboratory, presented pointers on safe handling of insecticides in the laboratory. She emphasized the need to know the chemical properties of the insecticide and the safety equipment needed in handling chemicals. She also advised participants to obtain a copy of the material data sheet (MSDS) for easy reference.

Dr. Matsumura discussed the preparation of insecticide serial dilutions and insecticide treatment by topical application. The participants did the actual topical application from insect collection, anaestization, preparation of insecticide dilutions, preparation of holding cages, data collection and analysis.

Dr. Tan also covered probit analysis designed for quantal response bioassay which estimates the relationship between response(s) and a given stimulus.

Dr. Heong showed participants how to install the statistical software (PoloPlus) and its application using the data sets from the workshop participants’ experiment.

Finally, an insecticide monitoring network was initiated and participants decided on the standard procedure for the bioassay, and developed and presented their work plans.

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Output 4 conducts in-country workshop in Vietnam
posted on 30 April 2009

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On April 20-23, the second in-country workshop-training course on “Decision making and sociological tools in pest management” was held at the Southern Regional Plant Protection Center in Long Dinh, Tien Giang province. Field work was carried out in Cai Be district.

Mr. Nguyen Van Khang, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Tien Giang province, formally opened the training with a welcome address. In his speech, Mr. Khang expressed her gratitude to ADB and IRRI for selecting Cai Be district in Tien Giang as the experimental site for the project. Cai Be is a rice growing area facing these challenges: 1) perturbations in its ecology and 2) farmers’ knowledge gaps and misperception in planthopper management. Mr. Khang stressed that in order to manage the pest problems, there is a need to understand the ecosystem. He pointed out as workshop participants include the plant protection technicians and local leaders in Cai Lay and Cai Be districts, the training will be a good opportunity for them to learn how to implement the project and how to expand it to other regions.

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Fourteen plant protection officers and local leaders in Cai Lai and Cai Be districts and the Southern Regional Plant Protection Center participated in the workshop-training. Mr. Pham Minh Sang, deputy director of the Pesticides Control Centre, Plant Protection Department, served as workshop interpreter.

After the opening session, Dr. K.L. Heong presented the background of the project and the expected outputs. This was followed by a description of the workshop/training objectives and expected outcomes by Dr. Monina Escalada, Output 4 coordinator.

Group exercises and focus group discussions with farmers in Cai Be District  provided participants with insights into the use of sociological methods to understand farmers’ decision making, e.g., focus group discussions, emic-etic, folk taxonomy and folk partonomy.  Results of group exercises and FGDs with farmers, folk taxonomy and partonomy are presented in the report.

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Workshop-training group exercise at the Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Tien Giang

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Focus group discussion with farmers, Cai Be district, Tien Giang province

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Mr. Nguyen Van Hai, chief of plant protection, Cai Be district, moderating the focus group

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Cai Be focus group discussion with farmers

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Output 4 holds first in-country workshop-training in Thailand
posted on 16 April 2009

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After the consultation workshop in Thailand in January 2009, the first in-country workshop-training course on “Decision making, sociological tools and impact assessment in pest management” was conducted on 30 March – 3 April 2009 in Kasetsart University in Bangkhen and field work in Ang Thong and Chainat provinces.

Dr. Samlee Boonyaviwat, Director of the Bureau of Rice Research and Development, on behalf of Mr. Prasert Gosalvitra, Director-General of the Rice Department, formally opened the training with a welcome address. In her speech, Dr. Boonyaviwat expressed her gratitude to ADB and IRRI for initiating the training course which will build the capacity of Rice Department staff to better understand farmers’ planthopper management and stakeholders’ response to planthopper outbreaks. Outbreaks have been reported in Thailand almost every year despite the Rice Department’s release of resistant rice varieties. Most of these outbreaks are due to misuse of insecticides. Eliminating natural enemies, insect pest resurgence and insecticide resistance have complicated rice ecosystem problems.

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Workshop-training participants

Eleven staff members from the Rice Department participated in the workshop-training conducted by three resource persons from IRRI and the Philippines — Dr. K.L. Heong, Ms. Zenaida M. Huelgas and Dr. Monina Escalada. After the opening session, Dr. Heong, principal investigator, presented the background of the project and the expected outputs. This was followed by a description of the workshop/training objectives and expected outcomes by Dr. Escalada, Output 4 coordinator. The four training modules were tackled by the various resource persons as planned. The training was interactive, participatory, competency-based and hands-on.

Moderating a focus group

Taking down notes during an FGD in Ang Thong

Focus group discussion in Chainat

Focus group discussion in Chainat

Women farmers in Chainat focus group

Women farmers in Chainat focus group

Group exercises and focus group discussions with farmers in Ang Thong and Chainat provinces provided participants with insights into the use of sociological methods to understand farmers’ decision making, e.g., focus group discussions, emic-etic, folk taxonomy and folk partonomy.  Results of group exercises and FGDs with farmers and extension workers, folk taxonomy and partonomy are presented in the report.

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Inception and consultation workshops completed

posted on 12 February 2009

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The Inception and Consultation workshops of the Rice Planthopper project were held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on 3-5 November 2008 and Bangkok, Thailand on 19-20 January 2009, respectively. The report submitted to ADB is available here.

Partners from China, Thailand and Vietnam have endorsed the activities and work plans. The Project will first organize a series of training workshops to develop common protocols, instruments, research methods and work activities.  The schedules of these training workshops are planned as follows:

Ecological engineering – principles, design and research methods

Zhejiang University, China  May 25-29, 2009

Toxicology and insecticide resistance monitoring

IRRI, Philippines April 27 – May 1, 2009

Decision making, sociological tools and impact assessment

Thailand  (Bangkok/Chainat) March 30 – April 3, 2009

Vietnam  (Long Dinh) April 20-24, 2009

China (Guilin)  May 11-15, 2009.

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Consultation workshop – Rice Department as new partner

Posted on  28January  2009

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At the consultation workshop on Jan. 19-20, 2009, Khun Chairit  Dumrongkiat, Deputy Director General of Rice Department, welcomed the initiative by ADB and IRRI to collaborate with Thailand on the rice planthopper project.

Being a rice exporter, the threat of planthoppers can trigger export restrictions that might create shortage in the world market. Thailand has buffered planthopper problems in the early 1990s, which was attributed to excessive use of pyrethroids and this can happen again with the recent rice crisis stimulating farmers to increase inputs. The DG of Rice Department, Khun Prasert Golsalvitra, who joined the workshop later, expressed his full support of the project by the Rice Department.

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Dr. K.L. Heong, Principal Investigator, ADB-IRRI Rice Planthopper Project

Dr Heong presented the project rationale and the project’s ecological approach towards tackling planthopper pests which primarily result from disruption of ecosystem services. The project output coordinators presented the outputs and working in groups, the participants helped to refine and finalized the milestones.

Field visit, Nakhon Nayok province

Field visit, Nakhon Nayok province

The next day, the project output coordinators, along with Drs. Orapin Watanesk, Wantana Sriratanasak and Manit Luecha of the Rice Department, visited Srisakrabuo subdistrict in Nakhon Nayok province, one of Thailand’s central provinces. Nakhon Nayok province covers some 2,130 square kilometers, borders Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces on the north, Prachin Buri province on the east, Chachoengsao province on the south and Pathum Thani Province on the west.

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Thai farmers in focus group discussion

Thai rice farmers in a focus group, Nakhon Nayok province

Thai farmers in focus group discussion, Nakhon Nayok province

A focus group discussion was conducted with 20 rice farmers (12 men, 6 women) at the Farmers’ Center in Srisakrabuo subdistrict to discuss some issues related to rice farming — varieties grown, their most important problems in rice production, extent of damage of the ragged stunt virus, and control measures for the brown planthopper (BPH). In that area, farmers believed that the key to successful rice farming is a rice variety with high yield, resistant to pests, and suitable to the weather. Farmers changed rice varieties every few years believing that a new variety will perform better. Likewise, they thought that insecticides, like rice varieties, needed to be changed often because insect pests become resistant to chemicals when these are repeatedly used.

Field visit to check for rice attacked by ragged stunt virus

Field visit to check for rice attacked by ragged stunt virus

Farmers check f they have a BPH problem by tapping the tillers and counting the number of insects dropping into the water.  About 20 BPH per tap is their action threshold for using a wide range of chemicals – dinotefuran, endosulfan, parathion, cypermethrin, chlorpyrifos, imidacloprid,  fenobucarb, and buprofezin.  Farmers applied insecticides twice per cropping season or thrice when there is an outbreak.

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Thai rice farmers

To explore farmers’ attitudes toward insecticide use, we probed if they would spray the same amount of insecticides on a resistant variety. Some farmers said they would spray them as much as non-resistant varieties; others thought that they would not. To most farmers in the focus group, pests can be controlled mainly by chemicals and they knew no other way to manage pests.