Fears that an influx of brown planthoppers would destroy rice crops in Svay Rieng province have been put to rest after all the affected crops have been collected, officials said Friday.
Khuon Sapo, bureau chief of the department of agriculture in Kompong Ro district, said swarms of brown planthoppers a tiny insect that infects plants with viruses, arrived in the area in mid-July, affecting more than 400 hectares of rice seedling beds throughout 54 villages.
But “all these insects have been collected and completely destroyed this week,” he said, adding that the insects had been cleared away quick enough to save most of the district’s rice crop.
Svay Chrum district governor Uy Thorn also said that areas affected by the brown planthopper had been saved due to better response mechanisms among farmers who were more prepared this year for the insect’s arrival.
“If we had not intervened in time, many hectares of rice would probably have been destroyed,” he said.
Ngin Chhay, national coordinator for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s pest management program in Cambodia, said in an email on Friday that the brown planthopper has been infesting Cambodia’s rice crop since 2007, but that the level of damage had been declining.
In the past brown planthoppers mainly affected Cambodia from the second week of July to the first week of August, he said.
“It was observed that the high population of [brown planthopper] was linked to the harvesting time of rice in [the] Southern part of Vietnam,” he said. “During the period of July-August Vietnamese farmers harvested rice and the [brown planthoppers] have migrated [to] new host.”
He added that a heightened use of insecticides available at local markets in Cambodia had also helped control the numbers of brown planthoppers able to survive.
The Ministry of Agriculture has trained farmers to monitor the arrival of brown planthoppers using light traps and observations techniques.