News / Africa

Farmer Training Aims to Reduce Pesticide Use in Mali

Cotton farmer Karim Traore, 29, surveys his cotton field outside Koutiala August 30, 2012.
Cotton farmer Karim Traore, 29, surveys his cotton field outside Koutiala August 30, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jennifer Lazuta
— The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says schools in Mali have been training cotton farmers about how to use natural substances in order to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides by 92 percent, while maintaining normal crop yields. The natural pesticides also may save money.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that the introduction of new pest-control methods to cotton growers in Mali “nearly eliminated” the use of toxic pesticides.

The study, which was published Monday by the London-based Royal Society, followed two communities; one that was trained in the use of bio-pesticides, and one that was not.

Project manager William Settle is with the FAO Plant Production and Protection Division. “The outcome of the study, which looked at historical records from the cotton company itself over an eight-year period, showed that in the area in which the training took place ... those farmers reduced their use of synthetic, highly toxic pesticides by more than 92 percent. Whereas compared with another area of the country, not too far away, in which they had not yet conducted farmer training, pesticide use was unchanged.”

Cotton is one of the biggest drivers of economic growth in Mali. The FAO says an estimated 4 million farmers grow cotton crops each year and the crop accounts for up to 75 percent of the country’s exports earnings.

Settle said that unfortunately, the use of chemical pesticides is not uncommon when it comes to growing cotton.

“Cotton is the major cash crop for several West African countries, including Mali. And it tends to be an open door for pesticides, meaning that the pesticides come into the cotton system often times end up being distributed elsewhere, often times in vegetable systems,” he said.

Settle said that some alternatives to chemical pesticides include using extracts from the neem tree, which is commonly found throughout much of western Africa.

The FAO says during the course of the study, farmers collectively saved nearly a half-million dollars by not using chemical pesticides.

Settle said the challenge now is to convince farmers that natural pesticides are just as good, if not better than, chemical pesticides.

“Farmers have the assumption that pesticides are a kind of insurance, that using pesticides are, whether you need it or not, you are somehow ensuring the well-being of their crop. Through farmer field schools we are able to help the farmers demonstrate for themselves that alternatives are possible, and that these alternatives are less costly and less harmful for their health,” he said.

Settle said the FAO is working with U.S.-based researchers to help reduce the risk of pesticide usage in Africa and to develop a more cost-effective method of protecting crops.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid