Thursday, September 29, 2016

Biological control agents are farmers' friends

A local producer of fertilizer with BCA in Cambodia shows his organic vegetable plot to a farmer.
Photo by Rica Joy Flor

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Biological control agents (BCAs) can be used for sustainable management of major pests in important crops, especially rice. This was a key message at a national forum on regulation, use, and trade of biological control agents. The forum was organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and partners held 22-23 September in Phnom Penh.

BCAs are living organisms, either animals or microbes. The mass release of BCAs has been shown to effectively keep insect pest populations below damaging levels. However, the adoption of BCAs by farmers in some ASEAN countries is hampered by a number of factors, including lack of awareness and the absence of registration process to bring BCA options to the market. The BCA forum sought to create awareness of options for country’s farmers, government officials, nongovernmental organization (NGO) and private sector representatives, and researchers. It also provided a platform to discuss trade regulation and pathways for BCA adoption in Cambodia.

More than 140 participants representing the groups mentioned above attended the forum. Researchers from neighboring ASEAN countries also provided a regional perspective on BCA. They discussed the current status of BCA regulations and use in Cambodia.  Researchers and NGO staff presented their findings from BCA experiments, particularly on the use of Trichoderma and Metarhizium, two beneficial fungal agents, in Cambodia and Vietnam. Private companies that manufacture BCAs provided product demonstrations. Additionally, participants identified organizations, individuals or groups in Cambodia interested in integrated pest management (IPM) for rice.

The BCA forum was organized by GIZ-ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems and the project, Development of an Ecologically-based Participatory Integrated Pest Management Package for Rice in Cambodia (EPIC). EPIC is an IRRI project funded by the Feed the Future Initiative of the United States Agency for International Development.

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