Integrated Production and Pest Management Programme in West Africa makes important progress.
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.
Working in small groups, called Farmer Field Schools, smallholders are developing and adopting ‘good agricultural practices’ through learning-by-doing and hands-on field experiments.
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.
Typically, a group of around 25 farmers coordinated by a trainer prepares two training plots in their village, one using local conventional farming methods and another plot using best practices appropriate to the crop and location based on IPPM, to observe and compare results from the two plots.
Over 2 000 trainers coming from dozens of local government, private sector and civil society organizations have been taught to support farmers in applying sustainable farming methods.
Data from Senegal and Mali show 90 percent reductions in the use of chemical pesticides among farmers one to two years after training. In Senegal, farmers also shifted towards the use of botanical and biological pesticides. Farmers’ increased use of organic material such as compost and rice straw is one of the most striking results of the programme, FAO said.
The IPPM programme is working with farmers to sustainably intensify the cotton production system, by boosting yields through the application of compost, the planting of leguminous cover crops, and the use of improved seeds and plant management techniques. Farmers are diversifying their use of cereal and soil improving crops (legumes and forage) that can be fed to animals or sold on local markets.
This year, the IPPM project is also starting to monitor pesticide residue levels in water samples taken from multiple sites in six West African countries along both the Niger and Senegal rivers. The programme is working in partnership with Oregon State University (USA) to build capacities of local laboratories to detect pesticides in water.
The $9.5 million second phase IPPM project in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal is funded by the government of the Netherlands. The purely economic returns easily cover the project costs within the lifespan of the project and there are multiple non-economic benefits, on community health, education and environment. Additional funding and partnerships are provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Environment Programme, the European Union and Spain.
If resources became available, as many as 500 000 farmers could be trained in the next five years at an estimated cost of around $30-40 million, FAO said.
Great news for sustainability today 🙂 go humans, helping others succeed in helping the world.