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Safe use of herbicide and effective weed management course

Picture2In Bangladesh, approximately 350 species of weeds have been identified, and in Asian countries, these weeds cause roughly 33% of total crop loss. Because of the threat posed by weeds, the use of herbicides in Bangladesh has risen rapidly in the past few years. Herbicides are a great asset to protect crops from weeds; however when not used properly, they can be dangerous to human health or lead to the premature development of herbicide-resistant weeds.

For this reason, a training program entitled “Safe Use of Herbicide and Effective Weed Management” was held at the Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service office (RDRS) in Rangpur during 16-20 January 2011 for national scientists, extension officers, and herbicide marketing agents. The 21 participants included scientists from Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Sylhet Agricultural University, RDRS Bangladesh, and Peoples Resource Oriented Voluntary Association (PROVA); as well as agricultural chemical companies Syngenta and ACI.

The training was led by Abul Hashem, Australian senior weed scientist from the Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia and renowned Bangladeshi weed scientist, SM Rezaul Karim from Bangladesh’s Agricultural University; and coordinated by Md. Enamul Haque, CIMMYT cropping systems agronomist, and KM Marufuzzaman, program manager of RDRS Bangladesh.

The training course covered a range of topics on weeds management theory and practice as well as on the safe use of herbicides. In the theory classes, the trainees learned about the scientific classification of weeds, various weed control methods, herbicide resistance, the significance and utility of herbicide label and MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), safety requirements for spraying herbicides, personal protection equipment required in operation, among other subjects.

In the practical classes, the participants received instruction on how to set up a weed management trial, how to make assessments on weed control treatments, sprayer calibration, how to calculate spray volume and herbicide volume, how to read and use herbicide related information (e.g. spray chart, herbicide level and Material Safety Data Sheet), how to identify weed species, and how to develop a comprehensive weed management plan.

Based on post-course informal assessments, the training has already proven useful to the participants. They came to the training course with 5- 25% knowledge of safe herbicide usage. Most of the participants indicated that at the end of the training, their knowledge and understanding about weed management, herbicide use and herbicide safety requirements increased by 75- 90%. They also confessed that they had not previously received such training on herbicide use at university or during their employment with various research or extension organizations.

The training was organized under the collaborative research project “Addressing constraints to pulses in cereals-based cropping systems, with particular reference to poverty alleviation in north-western Bangladesh” which began in 2006 and involves the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), BARI, RDRS, PROVA, DAE, CIMMYT, and Murdoch University-Australia.

The training program was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Crawford Fund Australia and co-sponsored by the Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia (DAFWA), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Murdoch University, Australia, and RDRS Bangladesh.