THAILAND: Rice pests multiply post-floods

 THAILAND: Rice pests multiply post-floods

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BANGKOK, 12 March 2012 (IRIN) – Heavy flooding across parts of Thailand in 2011 has fuelled outbreaks of a rice pest that can decimate harvests, experts say.

The pest, known as brown planthopper (BPH), transmits two viruses that hit yields as well as eating away at rice plants.

“The floods have certainly made things worse,” Kong Luen Heong, principal scientist for the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) told IRIN.

“Moreover, they will impact [on] upcoming harvests as well.”

“BPH is attacking the rice bowl of the country for the eighth time in a row,” said Kukiat Soitong, from the Thai government’s Rice Department, based in the Agriculture Ministry, adding that “150,000 hectares have already been seriously damaged in the central plains, in the basin of Chao Phraya river [over the past four years]”.

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