Influence of pesticide information sources on citrus farmers' knowledge, perception and practices in pest management, Mekong Delta, Vietnam
In 1998-99, about 150 citrus farmers and 120 pesticide sellers were interviewed in Can Tho and Dong Thap province, Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Media, pesticide sellers and extension staff had different influences on farmers' pest perception and management practices depending on the region and intensity of the cropping system. Pesticide sellers were notified by about 95% of the farmers about their major pest problems, and the type of pesticides sold in their shop was primarily based on farmers' demand (87%) and then on company promotion (56%). Those farmers relying on pesticide sellers used more of the banned insecticide methyl parathion. Probably for fear of being accused of illegal practices, none of the pesticide sellers mentioned that they recommended this product or that farmers asked for it. In the intensive Tieu mandarin cropping system, media and extension activities increased farmers' knowledge of difficult-to-observe pests such as the citrus red mite Panonychus citri and thrips, Thrips sp. and Scirtothrips sp. Since extension was weak in sweet orange, those farmers exposed to media only reported the damage symptom of mites, not knowing the causal agent. Media alone seemingly did not suffice to acquaint farmers with these small organisms. Farmers getting advice from the media advertisements applied more different pesticide products and sprayed insecticides more frequently, whereas the extension has stimulated the use of acaricides and increased the number of both insecticide and fungicide sprays. The traditional practice of biological control with the ant Oecophylla smaragdina might be endangered with growing media influence and when extension activities remain confined to chemical pest control. Constraints and potentials of different information sources are discussed in relation to developing IPM programmes for citrus.
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