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January 2013: TVE Japan partners to adapt and distribute “Hopper Race” documentary in 8 countries

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Home > News 31 January 2013

TVE Japan’s film ‘Hopper Race’ highlights problems of Asian rice farming


The Hopper Race

The brown planthopper (BPH) is one of the most common insects that damages rice plants. It damages rice by sucking the sap, which dries out the plant, and by transmitting two viruses.

Hopper Race, the latest documentary film produced by TVE Japan, looks at rice planthopper threats to rice production in Asia, where rice is the staple diet for most of its population numbering over 4 billion.

The 80 minute documentary, filmed in four countries over two years, was made in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Scripted, directed and edited by Juka Kawaai for TVE Japan, Hopper Race is presented in 10 short ‘chapters’ with each one telling a stand-alone story. It looks at the biological, economic and sociological aspects of this widely shared challenge to food security, public health and environment in Asia.


Dissemination Partners

The following organisations are collaborating to version and disseminate Hopper Race film in their countries:

•  Action IEC, Cambodia
•  Indian Science Communication Society (ISCOS), India
•  OffStream Media, Indonesia
•  Doklao Centre, Lao PDR
  •  Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF), Myanmar
  •  Thai Worldview Foundation (TWF), Thailand
  •  Vietnam Television (VTV), Vietnam

In addition, Pesticide Action Network – Asia Pacific (PAN-AP), in Penang, Malaysia, and TVE Asia Pacific will distribute the original English film across Asia Pacific region.

On 25 January 2013, TVE Japan and TVE Asia Pacific, in partnership with Thai Worldview Foundation, organised a regional workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss and plan dissemination of this film across South and Southeast Asia.

The workshop brought together 22 participants from 11 countries – a mix of TV producers, journalists, educators, civil society activists and researchers – to discuss strategies for effective outreach and audience engagement for the film.

The film, made originally in English, is to be versioned into key Asian languages by partners in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

These versions are to be disseminated free of charge through TV broadcasts, farmer education and training centres, as well as through networks promoting sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management.

At the Bangkok workshop, dissemination partners (see box for names) presented their plans and agreed on strategies.

The workshop agenda also included brief technical presentations by experts who advised the film’s production: Dr K L Heong, Principal Scientist of IRRI and Principal Investigator, ADB-IRRI Rice Planthopper Project; Dr Monina Escalada, communication expert from Visayas State University, Leyte, the Philippines; and Pongsiri Senakas of the Thailand Rice Department.

The workshop was attended by researchers from the Asia Institute of Technology (AIT) and the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) regional office for Asia and the Pacific, both based in Bangkok.

The workshop was facilitated by TVE Asia Pacific Director Nalaka Gunawardene, together with filmmaker Juka Kawaai.

Earlier, on 22 November 2012, the English original of this film was launched at the International Conference on Rice Planthoppers held in Hangzhou, China.

Both the film’s production and its dissemination is supported by a grant from the
Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE).

Hopper Race Dissemination Project - inaugural workshop, 25 Jan 2013 Bangkok

Hopper Race synopsis

Rice hoppers are “pests” that suck rice straws dry and then die when there are too many of them. They have come to be called as “Green Revolution pests” because outbreaks of rice hoppers became out of control in the 1970s in Asian countries and threatened the success of the Green Revolution.

These little insects are now drawing attention again in Asia’s rice producing countries. Infestation of Brown plant hopper (BPH) and white backed plant hoper (WBPH) have been seriously damaging millions of hectares of rice paddies leading to the loss of several million tons of rice every year. Those countries include Thailand, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and surrounding countries.

What is making these hoppers pests? This educational film walks the fields with rice scientists, ecologists and entomologists. Their attempts are to restore biological control to the rice ecosystem by increasing biodiversity and genetic biodiversity. Rice plant hopper (Hoppers for short) will be the guide to this documentary.

By observing the underneath rice world from their point of view, one would see clearly today’s agriculture going against the rules of Nature. By reviewing the history, consequence becomes visible when agriculture emphasize too much on increasing production and ignores biodiversity.

Dr. K L Heong, a senior entomologist from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) breakdowns the rules of ecosystems and Nature into easy segments. So let the journey begin, the camera will discover the wonders of Nature with you.

Script writer, editor & director: Juka Kawaai
Producers: Shukichi Koizumi and Kenichi Mizuno
Produced by TVE Japan with the cooperation of Group Gendai Films Co. Ltd, Japan
Supported by Japan Fund for Global Environment

Hopper Race: Trailer

Photos courtesy: Dhara Gunawardene, TVE Asia Pacific Image Archive
Rice Hopper blog, TVE Japan


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