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Pesticides have become a big part of agriculture in Jamaica amidst the many challenges that face the sector. Farmers contend with pest pressures influenced not only by perpetuating the pesticide treadmill but also due to the impacts of other factors such climate change. Dependence on pesticides lead to misuse and to other challenges such as pest resistance, a good example is the persistence of the beet armyworm in South St Elizabeth and South Manchester.
Pesticides are dangerous, not only for the farmer/person preparing and applying it, but also to animals, the environment and the consumers. While pesticides are important to reduce crop damage and loss due to pests, it is important that other options be included in the programme. Farmers are encouraged to use Integrated Crop Management and Integrated Pest Management (ICM/IPM) programme as it incorporates all aspects of the crop production system from site selection, seed selection, nursery management, land preparation through to weed management, irrigation management, soil management, nutrition management, pest management, crop rotation, and data collection, recording and analysis. The use of an ICM/IPM approach has many benefits including but not limited to:
As the incidence of pest issues have increased, so too have consumers interest in how their food is being produced. As such, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), as part of its mandate, has taken major steps to increase the knowledge and skills of farmers in pesticide use and food safety. This has been done through the following:
Partnership with key stakeholders such as the Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) in various initiatives to ensure that farmers are aware of the dangers of pesticides, how to handle them responsibly and how to use the Integrated Crop Management and Integrated Pest Management approaches for sustainability of their livelihoods, environmental protection and also ensure less food safety risks for consumers.