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Pests and diseases plague Vietnamese rice crops

Pests and diseases plague Vietnamese rice crops

Pests, insects and rice diseases have caused widespread damage to rice crops in Vietnamese northern and central provinces.

Changeable weather, including a prolonged hot spell, had created favou-rable conditions for pests and insects, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Developments Plant Protection Department.

Head of the department Nguyen Xuan Hong said that the improper use of pesticide at the beginning of the crop had possibly contributed to the situation.

Natural enemies including snakes and toads had been killed, leading to an ecological imbalance, which provided ideal conditions for the growth in insect numbers, he said.

Over 5,200ha of the rice crop in 19 northern provinces, including Son La, Lao Cai, Dien Bien, Thai Binh and Hai Duong, had suffered from black stunt disease.

Rice leaf folders, which infest rice crops by rolling the leaves around themselves to survive inside, reportedly appeared and damaged nearly 100,000ha of crop in the central coastal provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Thua Thien-Hue.

Average insect density was about 50-70 insects per square metre but in hardest-hit areas, 700 insects per square metre could be found.

In addition, 60,000ha of the summer-autumn crop had reportedly been hit by various pests.

High risk

Nghe An Agriculture and Rural Development Departments deputy director Nguyen Van Lap said that local farmers faced a high risk of crop loss because of drought and rice diseases.

Rice leaf folders have hit over 41,000ha of rice fields in Nghe An with a density of 150-200 insects per square metre. Black streaked dwarf disease has also spread in 2,300ha over 11 districts.

At least 70ha of paddy rice crop in northern Bac Giang Provinces Hiep Hoa District are suffering from an unidentified viral disease that has made the rice leaves turn yellow and then red, leaving the rice paddy withered.

The infected fields were mainly in the communes of Hoa Son, Thai Hoa and Que Son.

The district Peoples Committee vice chairman Nguyen Van Chinh said that hundreds of hectares of paddy field was vulnerable to catching the disease because of the high speed of contamination.

He said that the locality witnessed the disease in the previous rice crop at the same time last year.

The disease hit 600ha out of 8,000ha rice crop in the district, reducing productivity by between 10-40 per cent.

A local farmer Luong Thi Canh, of Hoa Son Commune, said she saw evidence of the disease some 10 days ago but two or three days later, all of her 0.5-ha – paddy field had turned yellow despite her using pesticide.

She said she was worried about losing her main crop.

Experts from Plant Protection Institute and Ha Noi Agriculture University said their laboratory tests found the disease was caused by a virus.

More exact findings would be released in the next two weeks, said La Van Trong, a Thai on Commune agriculture officer.

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