Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Myanmar seeks to intensify rice production sustainably

A symposium on sustainable management of pests through ecological engineering was held recently in Myanmar, an emerging global leader in rice production.

IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler, in his opening message, said that the country can play a key role in ensuring global food security in the future. “Myanmar can really show the way forward to a responsible growth and development of a rice industry,” said Dr. Zeigler, who added that if Myanmar chooses the path of sustainable productivity, it can emerge as a true global leader that produces rice intensively and on a large scale but sustainably.

Earlier, in September, in a meeting in which Myanmar’s rice sector strategy was mapped out, Dr. Zeigler discussed an important area of innovation and policy: plant protection, particularly the use of pesticides.

"Experiences across Asia now show that, in general, pesticides were often used much too intensively and were easily subject to abuse. Overly intensive use of pesticides harms the health of farmers as well as the long-term productivity of farms," cautioned the head of the leading global research organization on rice.

Dr. Zeigler said that IRRI strongly advises Myanmar to promote sustainable management of pests through policy, regulations, the right messages, and careful management of the entry, promotion, and use of pesticides in Myanmar.

George Rothschild, former IRRI DG and now professor emeritus at  the University of Greenwich, gave the keynote  speech.

 “The symposium aimed to consolidate reports on the threat of planthoppers to the sustainability of rice production, and the ecological factors involved,” said Madonna Casimero, IRRI senior scientist and head of the IRRI-Myanmar Office.

Partners also shared ecological engineering approaches. A set of videos was also launched as an information resource to support sustainable pest control.

Messages were also given by guests Sir Gordon Conway, professor at the Imperial College in London, and U Myint Hlaing, Myanmar’s union minister of agriculture and irrigation (read by Thein Lwin, director general of the Myanma Department of Agricultural Research).

The symposium, held on 11 November 2013 at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon, was a joint undertaking of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

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