Under intensive farming, heavy application of chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals has been a common practice, even for small- and medium scale farmers. Due to farmers' lack of knowledge on the appropriate use of these chemicals to targeted crops, they tend to apply unnecessarily increasing amounts hoping to achieve better yields. Hence, Asian small-scale farmers (SSFs) must have a better understanding of proper soil and crop management to efficiently maximize the use of farm chemicals without harming the environment and the public. Organic/bio-fertilizers offer a safe option to utilize renewable inputs to improve the fertility of the land using biological wastes with those beneficial micro-organisms which impart organic nutrients to the farm produces.
Bio-pesticides fall into three major categories: microbial, plant and biochemical. Bio-pesticides generally affect only the target pests and are safer to use than conventional pesticides. When used as a component of integrated pest management (IPM) programs, bio-pesticides can greatly decrease the use of conventional pesticides, while crop yields remain high. There is now a growing concern among consumers toward food safety and environmentally sound practices, giving more and more importance on the use of bio- fertilizers and bio-pesticides (bio-agents) as an alternative to farm chemicals.
Recently, there have been several reports on the excellent efficacy and safety of bio-agents as a promising alternative to the conventional chemicals. However, there are only a very limited number of reliable scientific papers available to verify their efficacy and safety, so that the efficacy and safety of the bio-agents are considerably different from each other even if they are sold under a similar and/or the same name.
This workshop aims to provide the region's scientists/researchers and extension workers with valuable knowledge and information on recent development of bio-agents for crop production and their appropriate usage, efficacy and how these affect the environment and the consumers perceptions in food safety within the Asian and Pacific region.
In general, the workshop aims to convene experts from different countries with experiences in bio-agents, and provide a venue to share their expertise in reducing dependence of small-scale farmers on conventional chemical inputs, while maintaining yield and improving the quality and safety of produces.
Tentative topics to be addressed: