Adopting Natural Pesticides in Rural Agricultural Practices
While the developing world only contributes to 25% of total pesticide use, it accounts for 99% of pesticide related deaths (FAO, 2004). Due to small farmers’ limited pesticide knowledge and no governmental presence or regulation of the matter, using chemical pesticides for crop protection in the developing world can be dangerous to the farmer’s health and to the environment. Moreover, the introduction of this and many other western agricultural technologies promoted by aid organizations ignore and break down the long-standing traditional and inherited systems (Stoll, 1998, pg. 8). An alternative to chemical pesticides can be implemented to prevent dangerous residues from contaminating food and water. Introducing natural methods return to these traditional systems, and can help achieve the economic, social, and food security of small farmers. Natural pesticides, made from substances such as neem, garlic, and hot pepper, are used instead of or in addition to chemicals to control pests. With more preparation and application work involved, natural pesticides are not necessarily an easier alternative, but rather a lifestyle choice. This project was conducted in Konza, a rural village in the Sub-Saharan country of Mali, with several subsistence farmers participating. Incorporating both experimental and educational components, farmers were able to see and learn about the differences between chemical and natural pesticides. 87.5% of the participating farmers had previously used commercial pesticides, with 25% reporting no adequate training in the use of such chemicals. 75% of the farmers had previous familiarity of natural methods, although only 50% had working knowledge of making the physical pesticide treatments. By the end of the project, all farmers had learned how to make and apply the natural treatments, properly use and care for chemical pesticides, and could explain the environmental and health effects of the commercial products. When asked which method they would prefer to use in the future, 37.5% of the farmers answered only natural methods, 25% for only chemical pesticides, and the remaining 37.5% would combine both methods for pest control. This division shows how the decision to protect farmers’ crops and ultimately, their livelihoods, relies heavily on varying factors, including social and economic security, and other established agricultural practices, that cannot or should not necessarily be changed. In general, this project gave the farmers the education and experience necessary to be able to make an informed decision to improve or maintain their crop protection practices.
natural pesticides; agricultural development; Mali
articledissertation or thesis