Pest Smart interventions and their influence on farmer pest management practices in Tra Hat village, Bac Lieu Province, Vietnam: results of a survey.
Climate change generally contributes to new and escalating crop pests and diseases, and their intractable management scenarios. Pest Smart, a package of climate-smart interventions, helps address these scenarios to build farmers' resilience to pests and diseases and provide them with knowledge in managing them. Among the interventions included are innovative participatory and climate-adaptive agricultural practices, ecological engineering (EE), and the use of non-chemical approaches underpinned by an advisory framework such as the plant clinic approach. A pre-Pest Smart (baseline) and post-Pest Smart intervention study was carried out 15 months after the baseline study was conducted to assess the influence of the Pest Smart activities on farmers' practices, attitudes and beliefs on pest management in Tra Hat village, Bac Lieu Province, Vietnam. Farmers advocating Pest Smart activities showed favorable changes in their practices, attitudes and beliefs. Farmers reported an increase in dry yield of rice, reduced rice seeding rate (from 6.9 t/ha to 7.8 t/ha), reduced application of nitrogenous fertilizer (from 109.5 kg/ha to 93.3 kg/ha), and reduced number of insecticide sprays per season (from 3.4 times per season to 2.7 times per season). The perceived losses were also reduced significantly from 1,452 kg/ha to 718 kg/ha (reduction of 51% perceived loss of rice yield to pests). More farmers also applied insecticides at a later rice growth stage (33 days after seeding) compared to as early as 19 DAS before the intervention. Farmers generally expressed a more positive attitude towards EE practices, but certain perceived barriers still remain, such as the difficulty of growing vegetables without pesticide use and the use of rice bunds for growing flowers. More time and sustained effort is needed to modify behaviors, retain positive changes, and remove the perceived barriers.