A perspective on IPM
IPM continues to evolve through the hands, minds, and courage of farming communities in Asia and Africa. These communities gain agro-economic benefits, suffer fewer hazards to human health, better and more sustainably manage their locally varying natural resources, and exercise greater science-based power to hold outside bureaucracies accountable. Community IPM, which usually builds on Farmers Field Schools, retains the responsiveness of many good NGO initiatives but reaches the scale of spread demanded by most governments. Partnerships and conflicts among communities, technical agencies, governments, funding agencies, and international bodies influence the evolution of IPM. (ILEIA)
LEISA Magazine • 13 nº 4 • December 1997
In the past six weeks I visited the future of IPM in two places. One was about 3 hours east of Jakarta, in a rice growing village in Kalensari, District Indramayu, West Java, Indonesia. My hosts included Warsiyah, Madamin, Sobari, H. Yusuf, and about a dozen other farmers who have done research for the last two years on the agro-ecology of their village. My companions included a young Japanese staff member of his Ministry of Agriculture and two FAO field staff who both had visited Kalensari before. Our facilitator was Arief, also with FAO, who moved to Kalensari two years ago and studies agro-ecology with farmers there. While my learning came from participating in meetings, field visits, and interviews, the scientist farmers of Kalensari have recently completed a detailed monograph.
IPM continues to evolve through the hands, minds, and courage of farming communities in Asia and Africa. These communities gain agro-economic benefits, suffer fewer hazards to human health, better and more sustainably manage their locally varying natural resources, and exercise greater science-based power to hold outside bureaucracies accountable. Community IPM, which usually builds on Farmers Field Schools, retains the responsiveness of many good NGO initiatives but reaches the scale of spread demanded by most governments. Partnerships and conflicts among communities, technical agencies, governments, funding agencies, and international bodies influence the evolution of IPM.
The Future of IPM
Scientists have been characterised as having three essential tools: clear understanding of currently accepted explanations and concepts, fresh observations from nature, and a profound dissatisfaction with these two, because they do not match. The scientist farmers in Kalensari have all three. When extension agents told farmers to apply insecticides to control rice stemborer (Scirpophaga spp.) , and they did, they observed that damage to treated fields was nevertheless often high. When extension told them to plant on a rigid calendar schedule to avoid stemborers, and they did, they observed that stemborers sometimes caused heavy damage, and sometimes not. They were dissatisfied with the current explanations, and they conducted, and continue to conduct, a number of field studies to create better knowledge.
Many of these studies examined in detail the behavioural and population consequences of the stemborers’ life cycle which has evolved and adapted to the uncertainties of rainfall. The scientist farmers have discovered by asking straight questions in the field how to observe and analyse insect populations during the dry fallow season from August to November. They track quantitatively the survivorship, diapause, emergence and invasion flights of stemborers. This allows them to decide for themselves, based on precise "readings" of their local agro-ecosystem, when to plant rice so as to minimise the immigration of pests.
They understood from the beginning that their results would bring them into conflict with a centrally managed extension system. They addressed this conflict with confidence and skill. They began the task of convincement with influential villagers, carrying the local extension worker along with them, then proceeded to the sub-district officials, neighbouring sub-districts, and ultimately the district head, in whom they found receptive.
In their organisational meetings, and later in educational seminars for officials, they used the power of their science to make their case. At the same time they made clear that they would take full responsibility for the management of insect pests in their communities. This was an important announcement, because when accepted it relieved local officials from central crop protection targets and allowed them to learn about the local agro-ecosystem.
In consequence, the irrigation schedule for the district Indramayu - often Indonesia’s highest rice producing district - has been adapted to the scientist farmers’ recommendations. Educational seminars have been organised with farmers from all the other sub-districts. All sub-district agricultural officials and many local government staff have been or are in training courses given by farmers. In agro-economic terms, the communities are growing as much or more rice with fewer inputs.
While El Niño is posing a challenge this year, because the delayed rains curtailed time for adjusting planting, farmer scientists are confident they know what is happening with stemborer populations in their slightly moistened fallow fields, and they are ready with alternative management strategies.
The second, temporary, home of the future of IPM was 2 hours west of Boston, USA, where a group of Indonesian and Vietnamese IPM trainers and managers are spending six sabbatical months. These are seasoned field experts and organisers. They have each been responsible for a number of Farmers Field Schools and the community IPM linkages after the Farmers Field Schools.
A very innovative grant has made it possible not only for them to improve their command of English, but more importantly to interact with community organisers, adult educators, and IPM farmers in a very exotic ecosystem. This allows them time to analyse together and at a distance their Asian IPM experiences, to forge their own linkages as an international IPM management team, and by comparing North Atlantic IPM with Asian IPM, to reflect in an academic setting on the rapidly changing roles of civil society and the state. They have already become participants and teachers at the local university. When they return to Asia they will work as a networked team among Asian countries as well as within each of their own countries.
Scope of IPM
Participatory IPM led by farmers is now practiced in over 50,000 communities found mostly in Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea, Ghana, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Egypt, Sudan, Honduras, Nicaragua, Senegal and Zimbabwe. This is over 2 percent of all rural villages in all developing countries. There are over 30,000 competent IPM trainers any of whom can facilitate a Farmers Field School through an entire crop season, and then the resulting farmers’ IPM group through the remainder of their year-round production agro-ecosystem.
The majority of those trainers are themselves small-scale farmers. Farmers practicing IPM have increased their seasonal profits by as much as 30 percent, increased yields per hectare from 1 percent to over 10 percent, all while reducing pesticide use by 30 percent to over 95 percent (and often eliminating insecticide use) and substantially lowering occupational health risks. Most of the communities practicing IPM grow rice, but IPM is also practiced by farmers of maize, soyabean and other field beans, cabbage, tomato, groundnut, coconut, cacao, coffee, peppers, sweet potato, cotton, mango, and cucumber.
Government agencies and NGOs have both initiated IPM programmes, and found that they were transforming their own institutions as farmers demanded better technical information, better service, and a larger role in planning programmes.
The history of IPM in and by rice-farming communities falls into three periods. From 1967 to 1977 was the era of the high Green Revolution. Even before the official release of rice variety IR8 more than 50 percent of farmers had already begun using insecticides in the Philippines, up from about 3 percent ten years before. Irrigation systems, often funded by multilateral institutions, had been designed or built, and policy makers, on advice from Harvard Business School and others, conceived the path to national rice self-sufficiency as getting farmers to use "modern inputs."
The use of fertilisers, photoperiod-insensitive, nitrogen responsive varieties, and insecticides grew steadily so that by 1985 more than 90 percent of farmers in Southeast Asia were using insecticides in irrigated rice. The vast majority of those insecticides were subsidised directly through fixed lower prices or indirectly through preferential tariffs, cheap credit, or parastatal distribution. Farmers were not paying a market price for insecticides, so they could not make an informed financial decision.
Yet nearly from the beginning of the Green Revolution increases in insect populations following insecticide applications were detected. In a survey of farmers’ fields in West Java conducted in 1970-71, Soehardjan documented significantly higher populations of rice planthoppers where insecticides had been used. Staff members at the IRRI during the same year were routinely treating varietal screening trials with insecticides to build up populations of planthoppers.
Insecticide-induced increases in populations of plant-sucking insects are among the first reliable symptoms of an intensification syndrome, exemplified by the Green Revolution model, that de-stabilises production.
The ecology of this syndrome had been sketched - but left incomplete due to political economic pressures - in Japan in the early 1960s by Y. Ito and K. Kiritani. In tropical countries it was only re-discovered in the later 1970s after insecticide-induced outbreaks became common. Destruction of predators and parasites of planthoppers by insecticides allowed these insects to multiply.
Insecticide resistance did not play a major role in the politically strategic outbreaks of the 1970s and 1980s. The capacity of insects to multiply, and the ferociously local character of population dynamics - where ten square meters could maintain a population one thousand times larger than an adjacent ten square meters - meant that local managers of individual paddies - the rice farmers, could benefit from in depth knowledge of agro-ecology.
From 1977 to 1987 IPM moved from research towards extension. By 1988 Training and Visit extension systems in the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Malaysia were attempting to introduce IPM to rice farmers through their systems of "impact points" or through strategic extension campaigns designed on the principles of social marketing. These centrally driven message delivery systems, no matter how sophisticated, could not respond to fine-grained local ecological variation. Recommendations were inflexibly early, late, or inappropriate.
More dangerously, in the area of crop protection these recommendations often collapsed under commercial marketing pressure to chemical product pushing. The logical fears of extension agents that by failing to push (even optional) chemicals they would be culpable for any crop failure, whether pest-associated or not, led to a one dimensional view of their job. To satisfy superiors who communicated by setting targets for inputs distribution extension agents often became chemical dealers themselves.
New sources of local expertise had to be engaged. Those sources are the communities themselves. In most Asian extension systems the crop protection units are semi-autonomous. Their staff are supposed to have special qualifications, and they are required to go into farmers’ fields in order to report upwards on threatening pest populations. While their surveillance work often served as a trigger to release more subsidised pesticides, their relative independence and assignments to the field created windows of opportunity for training and education.
These field staff, most never having planted and grown a complete rice crop, were put through intensive field Training of Trainers courses for four months, six days per week in the field. As farmers became pest control experts, pest control staff gained credibility as farmers. They also learned and practiced adult non-formal education skills, and welded together in teams that could rely on each other when they were re-inserted into their home office bureaucracies.
From 1988 to the present IPM, while for the most part remaining within national structures of agricultural extension, has moved toward education rather than training, and through education towards community organization, community management, planning and community control of IPM. Full time IPM trainers facilitating and then following up Farmers Field Schools have been succeeded naturally by networks of farmer trainers who can call upon specialists for specific advice.
These farmer IPM trainers now carry out the majority of training in Indonesia. In 1993 a Global IPM Field Exchange and Meeting was held in Southeast Asia. Participants from Africa, the Near East, Latin America, and Europe spent ten days in the field learning from Asian IPM farmers, then planning for their own countries. This has led to strong initiatives of participatory IPM in Africa, the Near East, and Latin America.
Impact of IPM: three dimensions
As IPM becomes a doorway for transformation and community empowerment we require new thinking about impact. While agro-economic criteria of impact are necessary they are not sufficient. The quality of scientific process and the social-political momentum of empowerment are equally necessary, and the three dimensions must be accounted for in studies of impact.
The narrowly agro-economic impact of IPM, after taking into consideration the costs of Farmers’ Field Schools and Training of Trainers, is considerable. One study of over 1300 villages in Vietnam showed a 4 percent yield increase in rice and over 20 percent increase in profits. Farmers Field Schools organised by trainers in seasons after their own training was completed in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso have shown savings for rice farmers of over US$90 per hectare, with at least as high yields, and profits increasing by over 25 percent.
In Philippines, when cabbages were contaminated by over-use of pesticides, IPM training resulted in farmers reducing from over 20 applications per season to three, including one treatment with an insect pathogen.
In Indonesia there were three nationally threatening planthopper outbreaks on rice between 1977 and 1987. In the ten years since, under an IPM national declaration and removal of pesticide subsidies, there have been no national outbreaks. The savings to the government of Indonesia by eliminating the subsidies has exceeded US$1 billion. India eliminated a US$30 million annual subsidy by the central government for insecticides, and instead imposed a 10 percent excise tax on them. This has meant US$60 million annual new income to the government, which spends over US$10 million per year on IPM field training.
In China, provincial governments, impressed by farmers’ profits increasing by over 15 percent from practising IPM, now pay for more IPM training than the central government. When calculated from field-derived estimates of micro-benefits to farms, the financial rates of return of IPM investment have exceeded World Bank and Asian Development Bank critieria for project approval.
Many case studies have thrown light on the depth of farmer’s knowledge and their skill in applying it. In Western Kenya, Ms. Elizabeth Baratza, a newly trained farmer, explained to me the mechanism of transmission of maize streak virus, and how her studies showed that the number one recommended variety of maize was more susceptible to the disease than alternatives.
In Burkina Faso IPM farmers explained that while pest problems were not a crucial constraint to rice in the Vallée du Kou, shortages of organic manure were. They described initial studies they made, but wanted more technical consultations about decomposition of rice straw under flooded conditions. Intensive on-going studies of several villages each in northern and southern Vietnam by FAO-supported field economists are showing that farmers are modifying their fertiliser practices as well as reducing pesticides and thus increasing factor productivity.
The crucial third dimension of IPM impact is empowerment. The Kalensari experience illustrates how communities come to control the IPM research, planning and implementation process by engaging the world around themselves. This is the path forward. My final examples, from Africa, show how the path may be followed in other regions. In Kiambu district, Kenya, a group of women farmers held an IPM Farmers Field School and continue to meet every week, a year later, in the field often with their facilitators and technical advisers, who are also women. They work in coffee-tomato-maize systems.
During my visit in July 1997 the Director of Crop Protection of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute delivered to this group of 25 women a diagnostic report on a tomato pathogen that the farmer scientists had recognised was neither a nutritional disorder nor insect damage. The report offered both chemical and cultural management options. The group discussed the report, and seemed likely to choose the cultural management option and not the chemical one. What was remarkable was that this group of farmers had accessed the leading national institution and received service, just as giant plantation operators do, in order to inform their decision making. This is the power of scientist farmers.
The final case is from Mali, where a group of farmers had completed Farmers’ Field Schools and were reporting results to our August 1997 visitors group of outsiders and irrigation system officials. When these scientist farmers explained that insect pests were not observed to be a threat in that season, due to effective natural enemies, the most senior of the irrigation officials, with a plant protection background, protested. He accused the farmers of being complacent, that other pests they could not observe might be destroying their crop.
In reply, the senior female farmer raised her voice from the end of the room, and accompanied by affirmations from both men and women farmers, engaged the official in discussion. She explained that because they had conducted simulation studies of rice crop damage and observed and measured how the crop had recovered, the scientist farmers were confident that other damage, even if unobserved, would not result in yield loss. She then went on to raise the issue of the "package" of inputs that each farmer was required to take and pay for out of the harvest. She recalled that the package included about US$80 worth of pesticides, which were not needed at all that season.
Faced with scientific arguments and with the unanimity of the group of IPM scientist farmers that season, the irrigation official conceded that the package would be re-examined. When the content and process of IPM are linked to community power, even during the first seasons, transformation begins.
Peter Kenmore, FAO, AGPP, Global IPM Facility, Viale delle Terme di Carcalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.