In South-East Asia in general and especially in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, agriculture faces a wide range of constraints, including the rapidly changing demand for agricultural production (quantity, quality and safety), the impacts of climate change, the impacts of inputs on health and the environment. Crop Protection has relied for a long time on agrochemicals but is now at a defining moment. Although pesticides have been condemned for many years, the problems encountered with this type of Crop Protection are becoming more frequent and acute: inefficiency in many situations; resistance to pesticides; soil, water, and air pollution; hazards to human health; and loss in biodiversity.
In this context, the challenge of agronomic research is: ii) now to move from this chemical-based approach to that of pest prevention with more balanced and sustainable agroecosystems; ii) to answer both the current questions (in particular to improve the socioeconomic viability of the stakeholders) and those of tomorrow (in particular to design and implement ecologically sustainable agroecosystems). Agroecology appears to be an appropriate and relevant way to respond to this challenge.
Agroecological Crop Protection
Agroecological Crop Protection (ACP) is the declension of Agroecology to Crop Protection and it is at the crossroad of Agroecology and Crop Protection. It aims at “replacing” chemicals, which have negative effects on the environment and on human health, by the services offered by functional biodiversity above and below the soil surface. By focusing on preventive measures, it aims at establishing a bioecological balance between plant and animal communities within an agroecosystem in order to prevent or reduce the risk of infections or outbreaks of pests’ outbreaks. ACP is based on 2 axes: i) enhance biodiversity (vegetal/animal) and ii) soil health. It is therefore very consistent and complementary to Conservation Agriculture, devoted to agroecosystem soil management. ACP is another field of agroecosystem field study and management, devoted to prevention and management of pests. It is now well documented.
The three pillars of implementation of ACP are sanitation, habitat management and biological control. New scales of intervention are considered, both in terms of space and time in accordance with participatory, global and systemic approaches. The implementation of the ACP principles to the field reality have shown good results in different parts of the world and some success stories have been described, for example in horticultural crops or fruit crops. Keys of agroecological transition are now available and can be adapted to different contexts, for example, SEA context.
The regional workshop on Agroecological Crop Protection was held in Southern Horticultural Research Institute (SOFRI), My Tho, Vietnam between 29-31, August 2017.