In an interview with Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper, head of the Ha Noi Plant Protection Department, Nguyen Duy Hong, said farmers should be trained in Integrated Pest Management.
F armers often assume they know how much pesticide to use and when to use it because they've done it for a long time. Do you approve of experience-based practices like these?
No, I dont think so.
Currently, information from managers and scientists have been disseminated poorly to farmers. If farmers do not learn, excessive use will result in waste as well as environmental pollution.
The cause of most problems is that farmers usually take their advice from those running pesticide shops when their plants have diseases.
Based on what they say, the merchants usually prescribe pesticides. Pesticide agents are like field doctors who diagnose diseases and write a prescription with impunity. Plants are often sprayed with a combination of different types of pesticides at the same time.
What are corollaries of this practice?
The corollary of the misuse of pesticides is huge, seriously affecting the environment, soil and water. Firstly, the chemicals soak into the earth, damaging the ecological system. The earth contains an eco-layer with variety of micro-organisms and soil biota that live in a circulation process and decompose organic matters to enrich soil.
If insecticides are misused, biota will die and in the long run, soil will compact and plant diseases will break out. Needless to say, farmers are the first people to be exposed to the direct impacts of pesticides.
What measures do you think can help resolve the misuse of pesticides?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the best way to manage the use of pesticides. The principles of IPM involve the use of disease-resistant varieties, balanced fertiliser, proper timing and density of planting.
When I mention the necessity to train farmers, I do not mean they will be competent as specialists but they will be able to diagnose plants by themselves. This will enable them to depend less on pesticide sellers. IPM should be regarded as a fundamental solution to sustainable agriculture and improved farming produce.
Each village should establish a group of people in charge of disseminating IPM programmes. The practices ensure people are equipped with practical knowledge about nature and society.
Basically speaking, IPM practices employ open training methods, turning farmers from passive recipients of new technologies to active innovators. This is the core target IMP aims to reach.
At the moment, Ha Noi is speeding up the establishment of groups that can properly use insecticide sprays. Once operational, these groups will help reduce the numbers of those using pesticides and slash the percentage of pesticides used.
If we do IMP prog-rammes well and explain pesticide usage, we can address a lot of issues, including decreasing the amount of pesticides on rice crops.
How has Ha Noi's agriculture progressed as a result of IPM implementation?
IPM programmes have helped farmers reduce production costs through less use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. This helps lower the price of farm produce, protect the health of farmers and environment, ensures food safety, stabilise ecological balances, and limit pollution.
Spending on varieties and fertilisers drops as crop yields increase. Currently, Ha Noi is using up to 70 per cent of biological pesticides. (These are derived from natural materials, including animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. For example, canola oil and baking soda have pesticidal applications and are considered biopest-icides.)
The quantity of pesticides used by city farmers is only 10 per cent when compared to their use in other localities across the nation. The cultivation area around the capital is quite large, about 300,000 ha.
Generally speaking, IPM programmes have produced many positive economic impacts. Specifically, farmers can save production costs and earn an additional VND750,000 to VND2.7 million (US$35 to $126) for each hectare of rice crops, between VND500,000 ($23) and VND2 million ($92) for each hectare of vegetables, and between VND2 to 3 million ($92-138) for each hectare of tree and fruit trees.
Each year IPM prog-rammes contribute thousands of billion of dong to the city's agriculture. In addition, they have also made positive contributions to poverty reduction in rural areas. — VNS