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Ethiopia moves on establishment of pesticide regulationqrcode

Dec. 24, 2012

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Dec. 24, 2012
Dutch researchers are working with authorities in Ethiopia to develop a pesticide regulation framework. Working with the UN Food and Agriculture Association and UNEP, researchers from Wageningen Research Institute are helping devise a pesticide control strategy for Ethiopia, where agriculture is growing rapidly, but so are problems associated with industrial farming.

According to the Wageningen team, pesticide use in Ethiopia, where there are currently no restrictions, has led to environmental and water pollution, illness associated with exposure to the chemicals and bird deaths. Wageningen spokesperson Floor Peeters said, the researchers are "helping the Ethiopian government to set up an assessment system, so that they can allow or forbid certain pesticides. Such a system could also be useful elsewhere in Africa. This should lead to safer use of resources, better yields and greater food security."

The program will run until April 2014. Peeters said work in Ethiopa is being undertaken to ascertain what chemicals would be safe to use, with minimal affects the country's natural environment. He said, "That an agent is authorised in the Netherlands does not mean it is safe for use in Ethiopia, where there are differences in climate, species and groundwater."

Work is being undertaken to set up inspections, to ensure legal pesticides are being used in appropriate ways, and train farmers. Peeters said such "national programs should lead to better food-security and increased agricultural development."

However, although Peeters and his colleagues are supporting the development of more industrial methods, after parts of Ethiopia were affected by drought which covered much of the Horn of Africa last year, UN special rapporteur on the right to food Olivier de Schutter called for a more sustainable and socially just approach to increasing food production in the region. He said, "This crisis looks like a natural calamity, but it is in part manufactured. Climate change will result in such events being more frequent."

In addition to arguing for better preparedness for drought and food shortages for which, he argued, "Governments must be held to account," De Schutter has championed agroecology as having the potential to mitigate climate change and boost food security. He argued that knowledge transfer must be the focus of drives for food security, rather than introducing intensive farming systems.

A report published last year by the UN rapporteur showed small-scale farmers could double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods. Agroecology applies ecological science to the design of agricultural systems and views environmental and social functions of food systems as integrally important.

De Schutter said "Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agro-ecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live – especially in unfavourable environments. Agroecology can help put an end to food crises and address climate-change and poverty challenges. It enhances soil productivity and protects crops against pests by relying on the natural environment such as beneficial trees, plants, animals and insects.

"Recent projects conducted in 20 African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of 3-10 years. Conventional farming relies on expensive inputs, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks. It simply is not the best choice anymore. A large segment of the scientific community now acknowledges the positive impacts of agroecology on food production, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation."

He continued, "Agroecology is a knowledge-intensive approach. It requires public policies supporting agricultural research and participative extension services. States and donors have a key role to play here. Private companies will not invest time and money in practices that cannot be rewarded by patents and which don’t open markets for chemical products or improved seeds.

"We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers’ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development."
Source: Farming UK


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