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Twenty years ago, integrated pest management (IPM) was known only to a few plantation cash crop managers and academics as a new pest control technology. At present, it is a household word in the vocabulary of millions of smallholder farmers of staple foods, mainly in Asia, and a very basic concept in understanding their environment and in better managing their crops.

How could such a turnabout happen? The answer to this question is to be found in an effective combination of new ecological insights and innovative approaches, whose combined strategy has been adopted into farmers' perceptions and cropping practices. The cutting edge for this development was provided by participatory IPM training according to the farmer field school model. This model, now applied worldwide, was conceived and brought to fruition in the paddy fields of Southeast Asia in the context of the FAO intercountry IPM programme for rice in Asia.

Although the farsighted pioneers of the IPM programme wrote history, the actual account of their achievements still remained to be put on paper. The issuance of this FAO publication fills this gap. The farmer field schools and ensuing community IPM strategies have now come of age and express themselves by ramifications into new, sometimes unexpected, directions, like the recent emergence in Cambodia of 'farmer life schools', which focus on mobilizing and empowering rural communities in their struggle against HIV/AIDS. This innovative approach was inspired by the IPM farmer field schools. For such efforts to be successful, a solid grasp of community-based rural development and the role of farmer field schools is needed. Careful reading of this publication will provide the required knowledge.

Thanks to substantial financial contributions during the last two decades by the governments of Australia, Norway and the Netherlands, it has been possible to achieve the successful development of the IPM programme in Asia.

The active and long engagement of the three editors of this publication in the evolution of the IPM programme in Asia is reflected in the accuracy and great detail of the text and will, it is hoped, inspire a large readership ranging from field workers to policymakers. The FAO regional office in Bangkok is all the more proud to have been associated with this publication. I take this opportunity to express my most sincere appreciation to all FAO staff, from headquarters, the regional office and the field, who contributed to the production of this important publication. I am confident that it will be widely consulted for the benefit of present and future generations of farmers and the environment at large.

R.B. Singh
Assistant Director-General
and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

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