By Paul Brotherton, from the Ramsar Convention in Bucharest
The overuse of pesticides in rice paddies in Southeast Asia is currently fueling a devastating pest outbreak epidemic. Due to the urgent need for the Ramsar Convention to address these issues, we felt it important to present the facts supporting it. Therefore, Wetlands International's team from its India, Argentina and the Netherlands offices held an informational event together with partners FAO, IRRI and IWMI.
It was shocking to hear how in some countries dangerous pesticides are marketed and sold in the same manner as food and drinks. The pesticide industry offers giveaways such as clothing and prizes such as motorbikes to promote pesticides, with a singular goal of increasing sales.
Without proper regulation and education, these perverse incentives promote overuse and inappropriate use while threatening health, safety and rice yields.
Fortunately, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has proposed taking action through a draft resolution: number 15, Agriculture-wetland interactions – rice paddy and pesticide usage.
A set of powerful presentations (see below) showcased evidence that the current overuse of pesticides is harming biodiversity such as birds, contaminating water and fueling rice pest outbreaks in Southeast Asia.
The country delegates and civil society organisations in attendance heard about the critical need for improved regulation, farmer education, and Integrated Pest Management in order to reduce pest outbreaks and pesticide overuse.
The resolution will be considered by countries this week. I invite you to view these very compelling presentations:
Daniel Blanco, Wetlands International Argentina presented his research on the importance of rice paddies for biodiversity in South America: Biodiversity conservation and rice production in southern South America. See the related publication: Use of rice fields by migratory shorebirds in southern South America
Ritesh Kumar, Wetlands International South Asia office in India presented a case study demonstrating the need for an integrated approach to agriculture-wetland interactions that focuses on ecosystem health. Case study from S. Asia on rice paddies: pesticide use and related land and water management challenges
Johannes Ketelaar, FAO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
Save and Grow: Pesticide Risk Reduction for Sustainable Intensification of Rice Production
Finbarr Horgan, International Rice Research Institute
Overuse of pesticides in Asian rice paddies: A threat to rice ecosystem integrity and productivity
Professor Norman Uphoff of Cornell University on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as a means of sustainable intensification of rice production
Read also the following publications by Wetlands International related to rice fields and their biodiversity:
Use of rice fields by migratory shorebirds in southern South America. Implications for conservation and management
Land Cover and Avian Biodiversity in Rice Fields and Mangroves of West Africa
Rice paddies supporting livelihoods and biodiversity
paul.brotherton @ wetlands.org
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