Farm pesticide, rice production, and human health

Farm pesticide, rice production, and human health

The need for integrated pest management on rice farms in China

Analyses both positive and negative impacts of farm pesticide use on rice production and farmer’s health. The paper gives an overview of the pesticide economy in China; looks at trends of pest and weed related problems; profiles pesticide use in rice production and farmer's perception, knowledge, and pesticide use practices; assesses determinants of pesticide adoption by farmers and impacts of pesticide use in rice production; and examines impacts of pesticide use on the rice farmer's health

Conclusions and recommendations include:

  • the marginal contributions of pesticide use declined considerably with increased use of pesticides and approached zero at current average pesticide use level by the rice farmers. Given the current rice and pesticide prices, the average overuse of pesticides by farmers was more than 40%, with the highest value of about 70% obtained in single-season late rice
  • both visible acute health impairments and invisible chronic health diseases (related to the liver, kidney, and neurological system) of rice farmers were closely linked with the extent of their exposure to pesticides
  • in seeking for a better solution to pest management problems and externalities, the priority issues are not just how to set up regulations and policies that would ban all pesticide use in crop production, but how to use pesticides properly, avoid its overuse, and improve the conditions so that farmers could internalize the externalities (external cost) of pesticide use, and find better alternative pest management practices
  • the results showed also that the average farmer's perception of crop yield losses due to pest-related diseases was nearly twice as much as actual yield loss of productions without any pest control. This indicated that most farmers did not believe the recommendations and prescriptions on the pesticide products labels, which they commonly regarded as too low a dosage
  • As a substitute for pesticides, improvements in host-plant resistance could lead to substantial savings in pesticides without reducing crop yield. However, the field survey revealed that only a few farmers considered the available host-plant resistance in making pesticide use decisions (mainly due to lack of knowledge of host-plant resistance). While the concept of integrated pest management (IPM) has gained strong support among environmental groups, extending IPM technology is facing a greater challenge as the opportunity cost of farm labor rises with the development of the non-farm sector in rural China

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