M. Escalada, Visayas State University, Leyte, Philippines,
Liang Wang, Qianhua Yuan, Ducheng Cai, Hainan University, Hai Kou and
KL Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
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A baseline farmer survey was conducted among 411 randomly selected rice farmers in Haikou and Lingshui cities in Hainan province, China. Respondent farmers were about 45 years old with about 8 years of schooling. More male farmers (57.2%) than female farmers (42.8%) were interviewed. The average of three (3) family members worked in each farm.
Hybrid indica varieties were grown widely in the study areas and more than half of the respondents (55.4%) considered the brown planthopper (BPH) as their most important pest followed by the leaffolder and stem borers. The rice leaffolder was the spray target at seedling and tillering stages while the brown planthopper was the key pest at booting and heading stages. The average yield loss caused by pests reported was 1652kg/ha and a mean number of sprays per farmer/season was 3.62; the lowest number of sprays was 1 and the highest, 13. Farmers’ yields averaged 5.4 tons/ha and there was negative correlation between yields and number of insecticide sprays used.
Most farmers reported not planting particular plants on areas around their rice paddy (41.9%). Less than one-third (31.1%) planted vegetables while 30.2 % planted fruits or fruit trees. On the rice bunds, most farmers interviewed (93.2%) did not grow any plants there although a few raised vegetables (4.9%), fruits (1.7%), legumes (0.5%), and sweet potatoes (0.5%). Most respondents did not seem to have knowledge of beneficial insects and animals and they could not recognize differentiate them.
With regard to farmers’ attitudes toward planthopper management, most believed that insecticide applications are needed as insecticide spraying would always increase yields.
A large proportion of respondents knew that the planthoppers laid eggs inside the leaf sheath of a rice plant and insecticides could not reach them. Most also believed that beneficial insects can suppress planthopper populations.
Regarding the causes of pest outbreaks, most of the respondents knew that high seed rates could be a factor but they were uncertain about other outbreak factors such as high fertilizer rates and insecticides. Respondents’ attitudes toward ecological engineering techniques seemed positive as most agreed that bunds with some wild beneficial flowers would attract beneficial insects such as bees and spiders. They also believed that keeping beneficial flowers on bunds could reduce the need for insecticide sprays, could help the bees, beautify rice fields and improve health to farmers. However about two-thirds of the respondents indicated that they were not willing to plant wild flowers or beneficial plants on their rice bunds as it would require more work.