Vietnamese Farmers Rely on Pesticides and are Very Satisfied

Long Sprouts

Yard-Long Beans

In Vietnam, rapid growth in the use of pesticides started with economic liberalization in the mid-1980s when the private sector was allowed to import and distribute pesticides and when farmers were given rights for pesticide use over their agricultural land, allowing them to make independent farm management decisions. From 1991 to 2007, the volume of agricultural pesticides as formulated products (i.e. active ingredients as well as inert ingredients such as solvents, emulsifiers and adjuvants) increased from 20,000 to 77,000 tons.

“This study uses the case of yard-long bean; it is one of the most important vegetable legumes in Southeast Asia, and consumed as a green vegetable, eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes. Using farm-level survey data for 240 farm households growing yard-long bean in Thailand and Vietnam, this study shows that the farmers’ main problem is the legume pod borer. Farmers rely exclusively on the use of synthetic pesticides to manage this pest, and no other control methods are generally applied. Small cultivated areas for growing yard-long bean (particularly in Vietnam), a high level of satisfaction with the use of pesticides and a lack of market demand for pesticide-free produce are formidable challenges to the introduction of integrated pest management (IPM).

Farmers in Vietnam felt that the available insecticides provided an effective means of control, and 95% of the respondents perceived that harvest losses due to pod borers were below 10%…. Therefore, it is possible that the pod borers could cause about one-third of marketable yield losses in the unprotected crop.

For an IPM strategy to succeed, it will be important that these methods do not increase on-farm costs and preferably increase profits. These monetary incentives are essential because farmers do not see their use of synthetic pesticides as a problem that needs to be solved… A further challenge lies in the fact that most growers appear to be very satisfied with the synthetic pesticides that they currently use.

Most growers are satisfied with the level of control offered by synthetic pesticides, and feel that their use improves the marketability of their crop and the price they receive.”

Authors: Schreinemachers, P., et al.
Affiliation: AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center, Taiwan.
Title: Safe and sustainable management of legume pests and diseases in Thailand and Vietnam: a situational analysis.
Source: International Journal of Tropical Insect Science. 2014. 34[2]:88-97.

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Fungicides Enhance the Economic Viability of Southeast Asian Refugee Farmers in California

Local Food

Roadside Stand

Most of the 95 strawberry farm stands in and around the Sacramento region are owned and operated by Mien and Hmong refugees from Laos, a small country in Southeast Asia that neighbors Vietnam. When the U.S. left Southeast Asia in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Hmong and Mien fled to the U.S. Most of the refugees were farmers in Laos and turned to farming in the U.S. Most growers lease small plots of land and grow strawberries for sale. A group of University of California researchers received a USDA grant to work with these refugee farmers. It became apparent that fungicide use is a critical element in improving the economic viability of the refugee farmers.

“Sacramento County Southeast Asian strawberry growers are very limited-resource growers who sell almost strictly at their roadside stands. UC Cooperative Extension has been working with these growers for 14 years and holding an annual meeting every March. This year’s meeting was held on March 24, 2010, and was supported by the California Strawberry Commission… A total of 52 growers attended the meeting, including several from nearby counties. In 2009-10, we received funding from the USDA to work with Sacramento County growers on food safety education, pest and nutrient management education, variety trials and market expansion.

Two of the most challenging and consistent pest problems facing Southeast Asian strawberry growers are spider mites and fruit rot… Fungicides are rarely used, and botrytis fruit rot caused by pre-Mother’s Day 2009 rains decimated all growers’ crops just before the busiest time of year. A leading grower did spray fungicide and estimated that he saved 50% of his crop.

Four treatments were compared to evaluate their effectiveness in reducing fruit rot, as well as their effects on yield.

The amount of rot per plant in the tunnel and fungicide treatments was significantly less than that of the untreated control.”

Author: Ingels, C.
Affiliation: UC Cooperative Extension
Title: Spider mite and botrytis rot trials
Source: California Strawberry Commission Annual Production Research Report. 2009-2010 Research Projects. Pgs. 99-103