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.
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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid