New pests and diseases, inefficiency pesticide approval causing huge losses for Brazilian agriculture
Sep. 26, 2013
In the past few months, the caterpillar Helicoverpa armigera, unknown to Brazilian researchers until now, haunts by the voracious appetite that has already devoured, only this year’s harvest, at least US$ 1 billion at soybean and cotton crops in Mato Grosso and Bahia. Researchers follow the trail of the plague and it indicates that it has settled in Parana and borders of the Southern east.
This new plague adds up to so many others also difficult to control, such as whitefly, the coffee berry borer and rust - this last one has already caused, in the last 10 years, according to APROSOJA, losses of more than 25 billion dollars. Losses spread to coffee and cotton fields, important export products, besides beans and vegetables, very important to the domestic economy that can have an impact on the inflation rate. If we look to the future, the picture is even worse.
According to the Brazilian Society of Agricultural Protection, there are 150 other pests with the potential to invade crops anywhere in Brazil. At least 15 of them are on the level of economic damage to the crops - one that requires managements and phytosanitary control systems. The effects can be devastating –to the fields and the economy of the country.
In the last 10 years, agribusiness was responsible for 27% of national GDP, according to the Advanced Studies in Applied Economics Center, Cepea. In 2013, it was expected a growth of 9%, compared to modest 2% of economy growth as a whole. These results are due in most part to the expertise of the research on the generation of new technologies adapted to Brazil, from huge investments of public and private companies. The Estado da Arte stage in tropical agriculture has allowed the Brazilian Green Revolution.
As an example, technologies as new active ingredients for pesticides are able to generate more effective and safer products. The productivity gain is assured by FAO, United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency: commercial crops not protected by modern technologies lose, on average, 40% of its production, reaching up to 100% in some cases.
Thus, it is a concern that in recent years there has been a vertiginous reduction in the analysis of new technologies for the field’s protection. In 2005, 27 active ingredients were approved, in 2006 the number was reduced to 25, in the next few years the approval rate dropped to 21, 11 and 8 approved products, respectively. In 2010, approvals have drastically reduced to 3 new active ingredients, while in 2011 it was only two products that were approved. In the last 2 years, slowness has reached a limit: in 2012, only 1 active ingredient was approved, and this year, despite the advancement of new pests, until August also just 1 product has been approved.
If we continue at this rate, the approval of all the products will take 11.7 years according to a recent statement from the National Health Surveillance Agency, ANVISA, one of the agencies responsible for regulating pesticides, besides the IBAMA and the Department of Agriculture, MAPA. This situation explains part of the huge losses caused by the pests, which are much more agile than the Brazilian bureaucracy and inefficiency.
A broad preventive work is essential and urgent in order to strengthen borders security and expand functional infrastructure linked to the 3 Departments. The expansion of the technical staff should be accompanied by measures and systems that improve and accelerate the analysis and approval of registration of new technologies. The correction of today’s regulatory framework will provide a horizon of greater predictability for companies to define their investment plans. And, above all, it will bring confidence to farmers’s work - the main responsible people for the food on our tables.
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