Healthy Crops with Dutch Assistance [Archives:1997/50/Reportage]

December 15 1997

By Dr. Mohammed Al-Ghashm
Due to the urgent need to redirect crop protection from pesticide oriented to environmentally safe practices, a new approach of plant protection will start at the beginning of 1998 through the cooperation between the Yemeni government (Ministry of Agriculture) and the Netherlands government. This cooperation will be carried out through the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Project. The IPM Project will develop, validate, and implement IPM options through working closely together with farmer groups organized in IPM Farmer Field Schools. IPM is considered the best approach in plant protection because it emphasizes the prevention of pests by integrating pest control methods into crop management operations. Farmers practicing IPM use a range of methods, including biological control, host plant resistance, cultural practices, and selective chemical control. IPM maximizes the value of the crop to farmers while minimizing environmental and health risks in a sustainable way. The main virtues of IPM can be summarized as follows: * Pest control becomes more efficient and cost-effective, thus contributing to higher crop yields and productivity in agriculture; * Farmers are less exposed to health hazards caused by pesticides, both through improved pesticide application methods and through a general reduction in pesticides use; * Consumers obtain a produce with low or zero pesticide residues; * Agricultural production becomes more buffered against large scale pest outbreaks because IPM emphasizes pest prevention; * Soil, water, wildlife, and livestock are less affected by pesticide contamination; * Foreign currency expenditures on import pesticides are reduced.
The draft of the project document was already prepared. It mentions that the activities will continue fro three years, with a budget of US $2.7 million. The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation has provided local funds for the general operating expenses in its budget for 1998. The cooperation with the Netherlands government is really appreciated by the Yemeni people. It has comprised development projects in different sectors such as agriculture, health, the environment, etc. A good example of cooperation with the Netherlands government has been the cleaning up of all obsolete pesticides which have been accumulated during the last forty years in the country. Those obsolete pesticides were disposed of in one of the incinerators in Europe and most of the funds were provided by the Netherlands government. The FAO also collaborated in this matter as a supervising agency.