A chemical ban would slash farm production

The Minister of Agriculture, Le Mamea Ropati

The Minister of Agriculture, Le Mamea Ropati

Alan Ah Mu

APIA: WEDNESDAY 19 FEBRUARY 2014: The use of all chemicals on farms should be banned.

“That’s the ideal situation,” said Minister of Agriculture, Le Mamea Ropati.

But countries like Samoa that rely on pesticides and insecticides are caught in a dilemma. Going organic is the right path yet many diseases strike at crops. And farmers, taro ones especially, say they lack muscle because sons have migrated to clear and cultivate land.

Without weedkillers, production would plummet so no ban on chemical weedkillers are planned. The most popular weedkillers in Samoa are the Round Up and Chromoxone brands.

“I would very much prefer for those things not to be used,” said Le Mamea.

He mentioned one organic solution – a legume with a root system that fertilizers while it grows among crops like taro.

Agriculture has long experimented with it but the legume grows too slowly for farmers.

Le Mamea spoke after he opened the 4th Project Advisory Group (PAG) meetings of the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR-ICM/IPM) and FAO Capacity Building Sub Regional project yesterday.

PAG meetings help countries like Tonga, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa introduce ideas to reduce reliance on hazardous pesticides.

“The four countries … are seen as relatively high users of pesticides on high value crops,” Le Mamea said.

The PAG group consists of entomologists, pathologist, agronomist, horticulturist, farm advisors, information experts, economist, generalist and managers.

“Pesticides are poisons, they were formulated to kill insect pest and stop spread of disease,” said Le Mamea.

“Over use of pesticides could cause adverse effects that could be harmful to human health and the environment,” he said.

“The non-target organisms such as pollinators, natural enemies and many others are usually most affected with very little consideration as a direct result of pesticide use.”

“Yield is often the main focus of farmers and nothing else as long as the harvest is big enough and clean with little care about the residues in the crops.”

The four day PAG meeting which started yesterday wraps up tomorrow, the 20th.

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