Cure found for black streak dwarf disease by a Vietnamese scientist

A Vietnamese scientist has found a cure for the southern rice black streak dwarf virus (SRBSDV) transmitted by the white back plant hopper (WBPH) and causing havoc to rice crops in northern Vietnam.

Hua Quyet Chien, studied agriculture engineering in Bulgaria and returned to Vietnam in 1977 with a growing desire to find a biological medication to fight the virus that caused crop diseases.

He was appointed to do research work on insects and fleas in the central highland town of Dalat and later he was given the job of librarian in Ho Chi Minh City. The paradox did not make him forget his passion for doing something for farmers who toiled and labored for such low incomes. He quite often left his job to continue with his research work on paddy plants.

Scientist Hua Quyet Chien (1, L) and Nghiem Xuan Man (1, R) are instruting farmers how to use the biological product at a field in district Kien Xuuong in the northern province of Thai Binh

After years of research he discovered that the more people used pesticides on crops, the more immune the insects became and therefore much more dangerous for the crops. He realized that the fight would never end.

While inspecting fields destroyed by insects in the northern province of Hai Duong, Thai Binh and Hung Yen, Mr. Chien found that by injecting salicylic acid (SA), a natural inducer of disease resistance in some dicotyledonous plants, insects were not killed but they lost their ability to destroy paddy plants.

Scientists in the world are aware that SA can protect trees from bacteria but it was questionable on how to inoculate SA into paddy plants. Chien has succeeded in protecting the paddy plant using SA. His biological product Enxin 4.5 was invented to prevent 11 harmful insect diseases in rice plants and vegetables.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has already made successful experimental tests of the product in Bulgaria. The results were so successful that Bulgaria offered to purchase the product patent at a very high cost but Vietnam refused the offer.

When Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, heard that this useful biological product could not be sold to farmers as the inventor had as yet not finished formalities, he decided to help bring the product into the market. However, it is currently labeled to treat only one disease.

Farmers in the Mekong delta province were in despair as rice ragged stunt virus and rice grassy stunt disease attacked their crops in 2005-2006. They were left with no choice but to uproot their crops to eradicate the disease. Scientist Quyet Chien affirmed that his product would help farmers in insect related diseases of crops.

Since 2008, the rice crops in central and northern provinces have been affected by the black streak dwarf disease. Chien realized that convincing farmers would be a challenge.

Luckily he met an old friend, Nghiem Xuan Man, director of Thien Duc shoe export Company. Mr. Man also wanted to help farmers, so he left his job to tramp the fields in the northern provinces to talk with farmers and governments about the new cure discovered by his friend Chien. He told farmers to buy insurance for their crops which were being threatened with the disease.

His efforts were finally rewarded when farmers agreed to let them inoculate their crop. Mr. Man then hired a vehicle to take the product to fields in the northern provinces of Bac Giang, Vinh Phuc, Ha Nam, Hung Yen, Hai Duong, Thai Binh and Nam Dinh.

They were able to see the fruits of their labor last May, when Ms. To Thi Ly from Tien Hai district of Thai Binh province harvested three quintal per 0.1 hectare of rice. Four months ago Ms. Ly had even thought of uprooting her fields to eradicate the disease!

The two ministries of Science and Technology and Agriculture and Rural Development have now agreed to provide VND4 billion to Mr. Chien for producing the biological product Exin 4.5 on a much larger scale.

By Van Phuc Hau - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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