FAO Global IPM Facility and Special Programme for Food Security, FAO; Rome, Italy
In past IRC meetings, the Plant Protection Service of FAO has reported on advances in IPM (Integrated Pest Management) from an ecological perspective, showing that with the right training farmers can produce at a high level of profitability, keeping pesticide inputs to a minimum and with improved management. Farmer field schools have also been presented - models of training initially developed in the Indonesian National IPM Programme beginning in 1989 and expanding to the rest of Asia and other crops during the 1990s. This current paper reports on further advances in three areas: the ecological model of rice IPM development; self-financing for farmer field schools; and expansion from IPM to livelihoods and food security.
It should always be remembered that not all rice farmers are born equal. As shown in Figure 1, a wide range of yield levels exist, but most farmers actually yield under 2.5 t/ha. At the high end are those farmers fortunate to have good environmental conditions and access to quality inputs and education. At the low end are those farmers often working under poor infrastructural conditions, with lack of access to inputs, lack of quality seed and lack of training. The role of FAO is to focus on the lower-end farmers, who are also typically food insecure despite the often high potential for production and profits. In particular, the FAO Special Programme for Food Security focuses on vulnerable rural communities and has begun to incorporate IPPM (Integrated Production and Pest Management) and livelihood directions.
Percentage of farmers with a given yield (estimated)
ECOLOGICAL BASIS OF IPPM
A review of the ecological basis for IPPM is important in order to appreciate the need for training and education for farmers. The rice ecosystem is quite complex but not necessarily complicated to manage.
Insect pests of rice are primarily controlled by predators, parasites and pathogens. A wealth of species have been documented by A. Barrion and other rice taxonomists representing one of the highest levels of biodiversity among agricultural ecosystems. What is critically important is the role of non-pest and non-natural enemy species, especially detritivores and filter feeders. These species provide a regular diet for spiders and other predators in the rice system, with the result that they are present in high numbers throughout the season - including prior to the arrival of pest colonists. This goes beyond the usual predator-prey models that consider agricultural pests as the only prey. The results of studies by various researchers in Indonesia and China have shown, however, that in reality the non-pest prey are much more prevalent and help boost beneficial predator populations. Furthermore, their numbers are related to organic matter in the system. Encouraging agronomic methods that increase organic materials is therefore good both for yields and for insect management.
Rice arthropod ecosystem
Source: Settle et al., 1996.
Diseases are best managed with resistant varieties and careful management of soil nitrogen. Low toxicity fungicides with minimum impact on natural enemies are a natural option for avoiding disruption of natural levels of insect control. Weeds are often managed by hand, with good soil and water management, weeding machines and increasing adoption of rice-duck culture. The ducks control weeds by walking on the young weeds while searching for food. Herbicide use, where unavoidable, should also be of low toxicity to human and other non-target organisms. Golden snail control, using water, duck, fish and physical management, is possible; rat, bird and other vertebrate pest management systems, on the other hand, generally require community level structures and collaboration.
Note also that issues dealt with in Matthias Halwarts paper (pg. 203) overlap strongly with pest management issues. The high level of rice ecosystem benefits (financial, nutritional etc.) resulting from the conservation and use of the large number of aquatic species is an important consideration for farmers aiming for maximum profits in their rice-system management.
CROPPING ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT
At the cropping ecosystem management level, the following points should be considered by farmers:
Habitat management: including modification of areas around rice fields in space and time, so as to be more friendly to beneficial organisms (e.g. parasites and predators) and less friendly to pests (e.g. rats).
Synchronous planting: farmers in a region should not be urged to plant synchronously without considering their reasons for non-synchronous planting, which are often related to water and labour availability, and input and harvest price stability; the idea that large-scale synchronous planting improves pest control is not well supported by scientific research.
Rice-fish production: combining use of water for rice and culture of fish in the field or in canals, including natural populations and species.
Rice-duck production: noted for weed control; popular in organic agriculture systems in Viet Nam, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, all of which have the International Rice-Duck Society.
Rice-fish with vegetables on the bund: a system developed by CARE Bangladesh for widening bunds so as to provide more vegetable growing area and eventually provide a nutritionally balanced diet.
Rice-legume rotation: as relay crops or in rotation to improve soil texture and nitrogen levels.
No-till rice with rotation: no-till possible with direct seeders and mechanical transplanters; system used in Korea with rice-barley rotation during summer and winter crops.
FARMER FIELD SCHOOLS
Farmer field schools have been widely used across Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is a system of regular meetings in the field for hands-on study to obtain skills. Agro-ecosystem analysis has been used to improve observation, analysis and decision-making in the IPPM and cropping management systems. The combination of regular meetings and a very practical and participatory approach has proved very interesting for farmers, resulting in large financial gains, especially by reducing dependency on pesticides and increasing yields through better management skills (see Figures 3 and 4).
Cost structure in Viet Nam IPM programme, 1995 (N= 1374)
Paddy yields in Viet Nam IPM programme, 1995
Self-financing field school
One of the critical challenges faced by extension systems is the means to pay for extension services. Recent work in East Africa supported by IFAD through the Global IPM Facility, has been the development of self-financing mechanisms for the farmer field schools. Under this system, grants to farmer groups are provided based on proposals developed by the group. The farmer group then receives the loan or grant funds to purchase stationary or field inputs. The fund is also used to pay the transportation of the facilitator (extension agent, farmer facilitator etc.). The field school runs with the usual hands-on activities, with the assistance of a field school facilitator and including field study. The self-financing aspect comes at the end of the system when the group harvests its study field and sells the crop. The proceeds of the sale are then used to pay back the education loan and to boost the groups own community fund. Further activities are usually carried out by the group using their fund management skills and fund-raising ability.
Strategies for integrated food security field schools and community livelihoods
As IPPM and crop management improve, farmers are requesting more support for other livelihood issues. Again, the field schools provide a good forum for planning, discussion and development of new activities which tend to include:
pre-planting to post-harvest and processing activities;
diversified production and processing;
community-based savings and credit;
institutionalization in community networks;
community planning (water supply, fuel wood trees etc.);
farmer life schools (from field ecology to human ecology) in Cambodia (UNDP/FAO);
FFS Networks for marketing in Kenya/Uganda (IFAD/FAO); and
FFS Alumni Associations in Indonesia (national programme).
Support pro-poor participatory research, such as biological nitrogen fixation and soil fertility management, locally produced pest management products, water management, processing and diversified production (e.g. rice-fish-vegetable systems).
Support large-scale education programmes for community and farmer-centred rice-based cropping systems.
Link to livelihood programmes, for example HIV/AIDS, nutrition and equity programmes.
 IPPM is a term developed
by the Zimbabwe IPPM programme to highlight the importance of production and
pest management balance. The term is now widely used in African IPPM programmes.
The four principles of IPPM are: 1) cultivation of a healthy soil and crop; 2)
conservation of natural enemies; 3) observation of fields; and 4) farmers
becoming expert IPPM practioners.|