Fewer pesticides for higher yields: if they can do it in west Africa…

According to the U.N. F.A.O.:
West African farmers have succeeded in cutting the use of toxic pesticides, increasing yields and incomes and diversifying farming systems as a result of an international project promoting sustainable farming practices.

Around 100 000 farmers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal are participating in a community-driven training programme (West African Regional Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) Programme) executed by FAO.

Here’s the problem they are addressing:
To grow healthy crops, IPPM promotes soil improvement and alternatives to chemical pesticides such as the use of beneficial insects, adapted varieties, natural pesticides and cropping practices. Marketing and food safety issues are also part of the training programme.

“Trends in agriculture over the past decades in West Africa have seen an increasing use of highly toxic pesticides in higher-value, frequently irrigated crops. There is a general lack of knowledge in the region of the negative impacts of pesticides on the production, economy and health of communities and the environment,” said William Settle, FAO Senior Technical Officer.

Hm, that reminds me of a more local region.

Here’s the solution:

“Simple experiments in the field, as practised by the Farmer Field Schools, have given smallholders the means to produce in a more environmentally friendly way, to substantially increase yields and earn a better income,” Settle added.
Maybe we should try that around here.

For example:

In Mali, a survey conducted in 65 villages of cotton farmers who were trained in 2007-08 showed a 94 percent reduction in the use of chemical pesticides and a 400 percent increase in the use of organic material like compost and manure, substances that can reverse the decline in soil fertility.

In Burkina Faso, IPPM helped increase yields from between 14 and 70 percent.

Fewer poisons for higher yields and greater profits. What’s not to like?