Can farms maintain productivity while reducing pesticide use?

Farming tractor plowing and spraying on field vertical
How would reducing pesticides affect productivity? (Photo: iStock Images)

A new UN report states that it is dangerously misleading to suggest that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security. Instead, the report recommends that farms reduce pesticide use and adopt sustainable practices that protect crops from pests by enhancing biodiversity and natural enemies. This agroecological approach eliminates reliance on, and exposure to, expensive and toxic chemical inputs, but would it really allow farmers to be just as productive?

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Pesticide use does not guarantee increased yields

Theobroma cacao © sarahemcc (CC BY 2.0 license)

The ongoing decline of pollinators has caused a global concern. Factors contributing to this decline include among others, use of pesticides, habitat destruction such as bush burning, bee diseases and pests (Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Varroamite), and climate change.  Research in Ghana has revealed that cocoa and oil palm production is on the decline as pesticide use increase is killing the pollinating insects. The research, carried out by entomologists and plant scientists from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), was presented at a seminar on pollination in Fumesua, Ghana last month (16 April).

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