African rice smallholders are increasingly using low-quality, unregistered herbicides because of inadequate capacity of governments to enforce strict monitoring of national pesticides regulations, a study says.
Rice has been a staple food crop for millions of people for hundreds of years. This important crop is now a major part of 20% of the world’s population, with it being grown on every continent except Antarctica.
Whilst rice is known to be an important part of our diet, recently published research has shown how rice can be used in a unique way; to clean chemical runoff from farms before it can enter local water sources.
Kanyumbu village is a compact rural farming village in Lilongwe district in Malawi. Farmers in this village mostly produce maize, beans, and mangoes from a few trees scattered in their fields. In 2013, they received a new service from the Department of Agriculture; a plant clinic, with a plant doctor. They were informed that they could present any crop affected by pests and diseases, or that was simply ‘not looking normal’. The plant doctor could examine the crop samples, diagnose the problem and tell them what was ailing their crops. On the spot, the plant doctor could provide advice on how to manage the crop pests and problems.
CABI has joined forces with the ISEAL Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coalition in the fight to implement better, less chemical-dependent, ways for farmers to manage agricultural pests and diseases that account for around 40% of lost crops worldwide. By linking with the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, the coalition aims to share knowledge on sustainable pest management strategies, strengthen knowledge exchanges on alternative methods for pest management, as well as identifying and focusing on specific pest-disease.
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?
Written by Melanie Bateman, CABI
There are many different ways in which pesticides can potentially cause harm to human health or to the environment. For example, substances which are acutely toxic can knock someone down rather rapidly, with symptoms felt within a short space of time. Chronic toxicity, on the other hand, can lead to effects which develop slowly following long and continuous exposure to low concentrations of a hazardous pesticide. Potential consequences of chronic exposure include health problems such as birth defects, developmental issues, cancers, etc. Pesticides can also impact non-target organisms such predators, pollinators, soil biota and aquatic organisms. Continue reading
Guest blog by Julie Potyraj; read her previous post on community health here
For most of us, the point of choosing sustainably grown foods is to protect our own health and to minimize environmental damage. While these are important reasons for making better choices at the grocery store, what about the human side and the health of those who labor in the fields of the world? Can selecting foods that are grown more sustainably with methods such as integrated crop management also be more ethical?
To answer that question, we must start with the number 1.3 billion. That’s how many agricultural laborers there are in the world. Of that number, up to 41 million are affected every year as a result of pesticide poisoning. That means 32% of this group are harmed by the use of pesticides ever year. Continue reading