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Sustainable Farming Methods A Substitute For Pesticides

Emerging reports show that Kenyan farmers are over-relying on crop protection products that have continuously hindered soils functions and ecosystems. Instead farmers should adopt better alternative farming practices, according to FAO and ITPS, 2017 report.

Producing more food from the same or less land, while at the same time seeing the available crop protection options diminish due to regulation and resistance remains a key challenge for food producers.

Effective disease control remains central to profitable farming and to minimize the cost / tonne of production through increased yields. Varietal choice and the use of inherent disease resistance should be a primary consideration when deciding on cropping plans. Seed treatments help manage the threat posed by seed or soil-borne pests and diseases, and play an increasingly important role, for example in managing viruses transmitted by aphids.

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PPPs are pesticide products used to prevent, destroy or control any pest that can cause harm during the production, processing, storage, transport or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood and wood products, according to the FAO Report. According to experts, research is needed in addressing the issue of PPPs in Africa as African soils have low levels of organic matter.

According to report, PPPs have become widely used in farming and many other settings such as urban gardens and parks, with their sales projected to increase annually by almost six percent, and reaching US$68.5 billion by 2017. But the report adds that the use of PPP could be reduced through soil-specific measures such as the reduction of runoff by improving soil structure or preserving plant residues and measures such as vegetated buffer strips or constructed wetlands. The report indicate that crop rotations which include phases such as pastures that require little or no PPP application also reduce overall usage.

The report was based on a review conducted by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) of scientific papers and reports with a focus on assessments of impacts of plant protection products on soil organisms.

Daniel Pennock, chairman of the ITPS of the FAO, tells indicates that sustainable soil management is of significance but only if the implemented practices reduce the amount of PPPs applied to soils while maintaining plant production levels.

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More research required on Crop Protection

African governments, institutions, and policymakers should create initiatives and capacity building programs to help identify research gaps in pesticides use and impacts. For instance, a well-designed scientific research on PPP in representative African soils should be carried out to address pesticide fate in African farming systems.

More importantly, studies on integrated pest management appropriate for African conditions should be supported and completed so that environmentally sound and socially acceptable method of pest control can be developed, which may or may not have a place for PPP.

Research on PPP and integrated pest management are of direct benefit to farmers if crop losses due to pests can be minimized and higher yields of crops are produced.