Rice is one of the most important staple foods in the world. Over 50 percent of the world’s population depends on rice for about 80 percent of their food requirements. About 95 percent of the global output of rice is produced and consumed in developing countries. (FAO, 2000)
There is no debate about the importance of rice in developing countries or in the projected future demands for more rice. What is questioned is how the world’s farmers are going to increase their current annual production of 530 million tonnes to the expected need for over 700 million tonnes by the year 2025. This task is especially daunting considering that it will have to be done using less land, less water and less manpower.
Most will agree that intensification of production on already cultivated areas is the only solution but this has serious implications for protecting the long-term sustainability and productivity of existing rice land. A particularly critical concern is how best to protect crops from pest losses without adversely affecting the environment and the health of the organisms it supports.
Fortunately, over the past decade a tremendous amount has been learned about environmentally friendly, economically sound and sustainable pest management practices. These approaches are commonly referred to as Integrated Pest Management – using a range of management tactics to keep pests from destroying farmers’ crops and livelihoods. IPM is now said to have matured and reflects a “more sophisticated appreciation of the structure and dynamics of the paddy ecosystem” (Matheson, 2000).
This course is designed to give participants just such a sophisticated appreciation of IPM in rice by giving them access to knowledge and information that will strengthen their capacity to give appropriate crop protection advice to rice farmers. It will also focus on ways that agricultural professionals can use to empower farmers by ensuring that they too have access to IPM information. The ultimate objective is to promote more sustainable rice production and higher productivity.
Rice IPM is designed to improve participants’ knowledge and skills related to IPM practices for rice production. It builds on the agLearn.net course entitled “Introduction to IPM” but focuses on specific IPM practices associated with rice cultivation. With the knowledge of rice IPM gained in this course, agricultural professionals will learn:
- How to grow a healthy rice crop and what needs to be done to prevent pests from becoming a problem.
- How to identify and understand the various organisms that make their homes in the rice agroecosystem as well as some of the other factors that impact the rice crop.
- The various management options that can be used to keep pests from causing economic losses.
- Strategies for empowering farmers with the knowledge and information they need to become IPM experts.
The course can be used as either a reference tool or as part of a structured learning exercise. A tremendous amount of information on rice is now available through the Internet and participants will find numerous links to these sources. Primary sources include the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) – http://www.irri.org/ – and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – http://www.fao.org.
Within this course we have tried to highlight various publications and tools developed by these two organizations as well as other publishers.
This course is designed to improve readers’ knowledge of the principles and practices associated with Integrated Pest Management for cotton. It is anticipated that participants will have professional contacts with cotton farmers and are in a position to advise them on pest management strategies.
There are five modules in the Rice IPM course: