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IRRI supports Thai move to stop insecticide use in rice

Nearly 11% of the 2011 Thai rice crop has been affected by brown planthopper (© IRRI)
Nearly 11% of the 2011 Thai rice crop has been affected by brown planthopper

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is supporting the Thai sustainable planthopper initiative to restrict the use of two types of insecticides, which have been identified as a major cause of brown planthopper outbreaks. Nearly 11 per cent of the 2011 Thai rice crop has been affected by brown planthopper, and losses of about 840 million baht (US$28 million) are expected.

"Thailand's Rice Department has developed a well-thought-out and integrated pest management initiative to reduce brown planthopper damage," explains Dr. Robert Zeigler, director general at IRRI, "which includes stopping the use of insecticides such as abamectin and cypermethrin."

This US$12.8 million initiative aims to multiply and distribute brown planthopper-resistant rice seed varieties and to establish light traps which catch the pest. The initiative will also manage 300 community centres, establish mobile units to promote best management practices, and persuade farmers to stop using abamectin and cypermethrin insecticides. "Brown planthoppers are a problem across many other rice-growing nations and, if Thailand is successful in its battle against the pest, others can confidently follow suit and implement similar measures," says Zeigler.

To help farmers make better decisions, IRRI is currently developing recommendations including licensing people to sell insecticides, and identifying which insecticides should never be used. IRRI is also working to find ways to support extension and communication of better insecticides use to farmers.

Written by: Kirt Wilkinson

Date published: June 2011


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