Bangkok – Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides and other poor farming practices have led to an insect plague in Thailand’s rice fields that was predicted to reduce yields by 30 per cent in vast areas, the International Rice Research Institute warned Monday. “This is the worst outbreak of brown planthoppers I have seen in my career since 1977,” said Manit Luecha, director of the Chainat Rice Seed Center.
“Most of the paddy fields – probably more than 1 million hectares – will suffer rice yield losses of more than 30 per cent,” he predicted.
Thailand is the world’s largest rice exporter. Last year, it shipped 8.6 million tons abroad, earning the country 5 billion dollars in foreign exchange.
The institute blamed the current plague of brown planthoppers, or BPHs, on poor farming practices triggered by a jump in world rice prices in 2008.