Over the coming months, we will be connecting with experts from across Southeast Asia to find out what they are working on and get their perspectives on FAW control. Today we talk to Ni Ni Htain, Assistant Director, of the Plant Protection Division, Department of Agriculture in Myanmar.
What FAW projects has your organisation been working on?
In 2019 we were involved in a one-year FAO project that helped us to implement an emergency response and enhance our technical capacity for early warning monitoring and management of Fall Armyworm in Myanmar. We continue to work with the ASEAN Action Plan on Fall Armyworm Control, as well on an FAO-South-South Cooperation project. And we also developing a project with Japanese researchers. Beyond that, we are doing work on natural predators, biopesticides and integrated pest management.
We noticed a number of
representatives from Myanmar participating in the recent Biocontrol Workshop Series. What work have you been looking at regarding natural predators and parasitoids of FAW?
We have experience in mass rearing of earwigs and green lacewings (at the egg and small larvae stages) but we really need more experience as to how efficient these predators are for controlling FAW in maize field conditions. We have found the use of Trichogramma spp. parasitoids to be very effective in FAW management - if released very early in the crop stage. But we need to be exact with the timing and monitor the pheromones traps carefully to know when the moths are present and to collect the fresh eggs masses in the crop.
How important is biocontrol to plant pest and disease management?
Unfortunately, we have experienced some of the hazards of pesticide use by some of our farmers, such as the indiscriminate or misuse of pesticides, and this a serious problem we must address in Myanmar. Agricultural products are fast becoming an export-oriented business and residual effects are becoming an important issue because of this but also due to the growing demand for more organic food. There is also potential to use community approaches to educate and promote the adoption of biocontrol approaches that could lead to local production and awareness-raising at the village level.
FAW is only one of the serious plant pests and diseases that Myanmar farmers need to worry about. What are some of the others you need to manage?
In rice, we need to control the yellow stem borer and sometimes the brown planthopper. For peas and beans were need to keep an eye on the bean stem fly in some areas and the yellow mosaic virus. Tuta absoluta is a problem in some areas on tomatoes.
What biopesticides can farmers buy in Myanmar?
These include: Neem; Bacillus thuringiensis aizawai and Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki.
In your opinion, what do farmers need the most help with, when managing FAW effectively?
After three years of FAW, we can monitor and manage it much better. Over the long-term, however, we need to grow our capability to establish and grow further awareness on the need for improved monitoring and management actions. Developing supportive policies is a key element of our long term sustainable management approach and that includes helping to support more use of biocontrol, from the registration of biopesticides to increased use of conservation biocontrol and improved farmer IPM education in the field.
We also need to consider how we control FAW across different contexts. In Myanmar, maize is grown using rainfed and irrigated management, with most of the maize grown in the rainfed regions. This requires different management for FAW control. We would be very interested, therefore, in the potential of using maize hybrids with native resistance and climate-resilient traits.