Cambodia launches rice-growing scheme to help boost endangered sarus crane population

 Rice Today   |  

Over 17 hectares of farmland in Anlung Pring Province in Cambodia has been designated as a protected reserve for the endangered eastern sarus crane.

Under the initiative led by BirdLife International, the reserve will be planted with traditional local rice varieties known as “crane rice” which are favored by the birds using environmentally friendly practices.

Participating farmers will receive incentives in exchange for progressively reducing pesticide and fertilizer use, protecting the reserve, leaving at least 5% of their crops for the cranes to feed on, among others.

Read the full story at The Strait Times

More on environment-friendly rice farming

Reducing pesticides and increasing crop diversification offer ecological and economic benefits for farmers—a case study in Cambodian rice fields
Since the Green Revolution in the 1960s, rice agroecosystems in Southeast Asia are mostly associated with intensified rice monoculture. The trend of intensified rice production and increasing harvested areas is associated with increasing agrochemical inputs like fertilizers and pesticides. The importance of pesticides has dramatically increased in recent decades since many farmers have increased their pesticide use as they believe it is the only way to prevent pest outbreaks.

However, pesticides can be harmful not only for the targeted rice pests but also to the environment and human well-being, since pesticides are often the first choice for pest management. To improve the stated situation, habitat management as a form of biological control has increasingly gained interest.

The SRP in Cambodia: Leveling the field for farmers, rice, and endangered wildlife
Why should a conservation organization care about rice? That’s what many people might have asked the Wildlife Conservation Society before its Cambodia program embarked on the country’s first Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) pilot.

Rice is Cambodia’s most important crop. It is grown for subsistence and for sale, domestically and for export. It matters more to the people of Cambodia than any other crop; so, if you want to work with the people of Cambodia, then you need to work with rice. Conservationists need to work with people. It is the actions of humans that threaten other species, and the actions of humans that can protect and nurture other species. 

IPM (No, not integrated pesticide management!)
The cheap, often subsidized price of insecticides encourages this behavior. Insecticide overuse accelerates the development of resistant pest populations, which, ironically, necessitates an ever-increasing amount of insecticide to be applied in the fields. Some call this the “pesticide treadmill” and it is a costly treadmill to be on, both financially and in terms of human and environmental health. A series of ill-health syndromes associated with pesticide exposure, including severe eye irritation and respiratory health problems, have been documented among Asian rice farmers. When the health problem costs are factored in, prophylactic use of insecticide yields very little or even no profit for farmers.



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