This project optimizes existing biotic and abiotic interactions in Cambodian rice fields to enhance pest regulation and minimize pre-harvest yield loss while protecting the health of rural communities and their environments.
About 90% of cultivated land in Cambodia is used for rice production, and rice accounts for around 70% of the country’s total calorie supply. Rice production contributes an estimated 44% of rural household income, making the rice sector an area for strategic development in the country.
In Cambodian rice production, there is widespread misuse of pesticides because of weak enforcement of current regulation and a lack of information on pesticide safety and alternative pest management techniques among rice producers. Most pesticides are imported and labeled in a foreign language incomprehensible to farmers. It is common for these farmers to mix two to five pesticides by intuition, leading to pesticide poisoning among farmers.
This project is developing a rice IPM package validated for Cambodian biophysical conditions and co-designed with Cambodian rice value-chain actors. The package will reduce both pre-harvest loss due to pests, weeds, and diseases, and the levels of pesticides in rice production by highlighting cultural methods, host-plant resistance, and biological control tactics.
In addition, rice quality, over quantity, is Cambodia’s trade advantage over its neighbors such as Thailand and Vietnam, so it is important for Cambodia to adopt strategies that create added values around its premium varieties. Strategies to accomplish this include safe food branding and adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards such as the Sustainable Rice Platform. This will also require a reduction in pesticide use.
Current Project Objectives
- Advance the knowledge of rice IPM technologies appropriately designed for Cambodian rice production systems.
- Develop an effective communication system involving all stakeholders in rice production to support the participatory development and scaling out of successful IPM technologies.
- Empower Cambodian rice value chain actors (agricultural input suppliers, distributors, producers) together with public extension and research institutions to conduct effective rice IPM research and extension programming.
- Provide information and capacity building for policy reform that will support rice IPM practices.
- Implement strategies that ensure efficient monitoring, impact assessment, and gender equity of the project.
- Pay close attention in ensuring gender parity among recipients of educational offerings.
- Offer a guest lecture on methodology in gender research at the Royal University of Agriculture.
Alexander McNaughton Stuart
Post-Doctoral Fellow, IRRI
Rica Joy Flor
Senior Associate Scientist, IRRI
Plant Virologist, IRRI
Senior Scientist, IRRI