Tuesday, November 17, 2015

30 participants from 7 countries complete training on ecological management of rice pests

Participants learned how to identify the types of weeds and how to effectively manage them. 
Participants have expressed their enthusiasm for applying their newly gained knowledge on the ecological management of some of the most destructive pests that Asian rice farmers face.

Thirty participants from the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam underwent intensive two-week training on the management of rodents, insects, and weeds in rice- based farming system at IRRI Headquarters on 2-13 November. The activities included lectures on the principles of integrated and sustainable management of insects, weeds, and rodents. Guided by IRRI’s pool of experts, participants identified common rice insect pests and their natural enemies, and conducted weed identification and screenhouse trials. They also had a participatory half-day session on population modeling.

“This training is very useful for my job as a researcher,” Ruwanthi Mandanayake shared. “In Sri Lanka, the Rice Research Development Institute is actively promoting sustainably produced agricultural crops, like rice. I have learned about practical management of rodent population, which I found very interesting.”

Budi Raharjo, postharvest and mechanization researcher at the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology (AIAT) in South Sumatra, Indonesia, said he gained a deeper appreciation and understanding about better pest management approaches that could help Indonesia produce environmentally sustainable rice. “The training furnished me with new knowledge on managing pests in tidal swamps in Indonesia, like South Sumatra,” Rhajaro said.  “The principles also complement the Integrated Crop Management promoted in Indonesia. This will ensure that we, in the AIAT, can provide up-to-date recommendations of best management practices in rice production to the farmers.”  
For Arriz Cabigting, a rice technician from the Philippines, the course gave him a new perspective on pest control.  “The ecological approach helped broaden my knowledge in increasing biodiversity in rice fields, while managing the pests in farmers’ field in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Aung Myo Thant, IRRI assistant scientist in Myanmar, shared his thoughts on how the course will help ramp up sustainable farming in Myanmar. “This course taught us that you don’t need to spray a lot of chemicals to control insects, weeds or rodents. Using the right technique at the right growth stage of rice is more effective than spraying a huge amount of chemicals to control pest population.”

“Understanding the nature of the pests and the ecosystem surrounding it is important before you apply your measure of control,” said Grant Singleton, training organizer and project leader of Closing Rice Yield Gaps with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP). “The participants will go back to their countries armed with sound pest management techniques and tools to facilitate collective action from the farming community.  Through this course, we hope that they would help their respective countries promote rice production that is both economically and ecologically sustainable.”

The CORIGAP project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the IRRI Training Center organized the training. IRRI’s partner agencies including the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development and the Philippine Department of Agriculture through its Food Staples Sufficiency Program, also provided financial support for the short-term course.

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