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 Dr. Nguyen Van Liem from the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) in Vietnam.
What FAW projects is your organisation currently working on?
We are currently working on two major projects, a study on invasive level, damage, and technological solutions for sustainable management of fall armyworm on maize in the Son La province and other major maize growing areas; and another project focused on determining the Lethal Concentration 50 (LC50) and the Absolute Lethal Concentration (LC99) of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema strains to fall armyworm.
How important is biocontrol to plant pest and disease management?
In my opinion, biocontrol is a key component of an IPM program and should combined with all other components in a strong IPM approach. It can not only control plant pests and diseases but also enhance biodiversity and healthy eco-system outcomes thereby contributing to more sustainable agriculture. It’s also important because it is safe for human beings and the environment and can help to reduce unnecessary pesticide use. We also need to consider increasing phytosanitary and food safety requirements, as well as the growing interest in agroecological and organic agriculture. Thus the role of biocontrol in plant protection and health becomes more and more important.
Are you doing work on natural predators of FAW? What natural predators are you looking at? What are your results so far?
We are currently working on trying to collect and identify the different natural enemies of FAW that are present in Viet Nam. For predators, we are particularly interested in predatory spiders and earwigs. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on collecting and recording samples of these predators.
What other some of the other plant pests and diseases that Vietnamese farmers also have to manage?
They are a number of plant pests and diseases that our farmers are faced with managing. These include:
Brown plant hopper (Nilaparvata lugens)
Rice blast disease (Magnaporthe grisea)
Rice Bacterial leaf blight disease (Xanthomonas oryzae)
Dragon stem and fruit canker (caused by Neoscytalidium dimidiatum)
Black pepper quick wilt (caused by Phytophthora spp. and pepper declining (causes by nematodes and soil-born diseases);
Sri Lanka Cassava Mosaic Virus (SLCMV); and the
Coconut black-headed caterpillar (Opisina arenosella)
Communicating effectively with farmers is essential. In your opinion, what are three useful methods we can use to help educate farmers on how to implement IPM?
This is very important but also not always easy. I believe IPM Farmer Field Schools can be very useful along with the development of IPM model demonstrations using a farmer participatory approach. There may also be an opportunity to develop farmer contests to get farmers to benchmark their knowledge on IPM or their use of pesticides in a way that farmers can better see what other farmers are doing and see how they can improve... but in a fun and competitive way.