Addressing Planthopper Threats to Asian Rice Farming and Food Security: Fixing Insecticide Misuse

Date: August 2013
Type: Papers and Briefs
Subject:
Series: Sustainable Development Working Papers

Description

Planthopper outbreaks in rice production are induced by insecticides that destroy natural control mechanisms. In Asia, excessive insecticide use is fueled by marketing promotions in the manner of fast-moving consumer goods in poorly regulated markets.

Unknowingly, farmers and consumers are also exposed to health risks posed by insecticides, which include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Field research has also shown that there is little or no productivity gain for farmers’ insecticide use. Instead, they increase crop vulnerability to planthopper outbreaks.

Highlights

This paper emphasizes the threat of insecticide misuse not only to farmers but, more importantly, also to the sustainable development of rice farming and food security. Thus, it is important to urgently address this threat and to develop more sustainable approaches that will integrate policies, marketing, and technologies to reduce the vulnerability of intensive rice production to planthopper outbreaks.

The paper also calls for structural reforms in plant protection services to professionalize plant protection. Ecological engineering methods to increase ecosystem services, for instance, and through conservation of inherent biodiversity may be introduced to enable the reduction of insecticide misuse. The growing of flowers on field bunds, which attracts bees and natural enemies of pests, can be useful to communicate to farmers the value of the bee-like parasitoids that attack pests. New varieties tolerant to pests when grown in ecologically sustainable conditions will be more durable. With structural reforms, other pest management methods such as tolerant varieties, cultural practices, and farmer training programs will have higher impact on productivity.

Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Overview
  • Planthopper Pest Outbreaks and Insecticide Use
  • Insecticide Marketing and Information Supply Chains
  • Insecticide Application and Productivity Gains
  • Conclusions
  • References