In this section, Fairtrade certified producers can share experiences and best practices. Every quarter, producers tell about their practical solutions to a certain challenge. Click here for previous business, environmental, social, and
health case studies.
Use and storage of pesticides
This quarter, the Best Practices Platform displays case studies on the use of pesticides and how they are stored. What is the protection mechanism used when applying pesticides? Is there any training for the farmers?
Case study 1: Government intervention
Medine Camp de Masque Co-operative
Product focus: Cane sugar
Type: Small-scale producers – 450 farmers
Fairtrade certified since: 2009
Contact: Chabelaall Dabydoyal – email@example.com
A few years ago, the cane sugar farmers of Medine Camp started to notice a gradual reduction in their output. Researchers from the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), engaged by the government of Mauritius, discovered that the cane setts had been affected by pests as well as excessive weeds. The researchers recommended the use of fungicides and herbicides as the main solution. Elated to find the cause of their problem, the farmers were also facing new problems as the pesticides were costly and they did not have available storage facilities.
While still deliberating for a solution, the farmers received their first ever Fairtrade premium. They decided to use the premium to buy the fungicides and herbicides in bulk, after which each farmer could purchase it at subsidised rates. The premium was also used to buy a property and a plot of land from one of their members with an intent of constructing a storage facility. The house was turned into a chemical storage facility in compliance with the requirements of Fairtrade and the local authority, including correct signs and notices, proper ventilation, air extractor, non-combustible racks, bund wall to retain spills and proper electrical installation.
Training the farmers on safe handling of chemicals was the next step. Medine Camp engaged the Farmers Service Agency of Mauritius as well as their secretary Chabeelall Dabydoyal, who had adequate skills in Cane and Sugar Production from the University of Mauritius, to conduct training.
The costs below were partly funded by Fairtrade premiums:
|Item||Cost in USD|
|Training costs (attendance fees, refreshments and training materials)||4,500|
|Cost of safety equipment in general & boots||65|
|Cost of herbicides per hectare per application (the number of applications can be one or two maximum)||97|
|Cost of fungicides per cane cycle||12|
The farmers’ output has increased and they no longer experience any losses. They apply the herbicides twice in a year while the fungicides are applied with every new planting season. Since the application of these chemicals in 2010, they have been able to keep the weeds and pests at bay.
Case study 2 – Community farm schools
Ecookim & Coopaako
Product focus: Cocoa
Location: Côte d’Ivoire
Type: Small-scale producers – 2,262 farmers & 758 farmers respectively
Fairtrade certified since: 2008 and 2010 respectively
Contact: Ecookim – Mamadou Savané, tel +225 58616142; Coopaaako – Ms Sopie Atsé, tel +225 41603326
Farmers from Ecookim and Coopaako have benefited greatly from pesticides supplied by Côte d’Ivoire’s government. However, despite the disappearance of the pests over time the output stayed low. High illiteracy rates amongst the farmers contributed to improper application of the pesticides, putting them at risk as they couldn’t read the safety precautions on the bottles. Management of the two cooperatives intervened but the results were minimal. Most farmers continued storing the pesticides in their homes, oblivious of the risks they were exposing themselves to.
To obtain Fairtrade certification, both organisations had to make major changes. But it didn’t stop there. After receiving their first Fairtrade premium, Ecookim and Coopaako decided to invest the money in further professional training. In collaboration with the chemical companies, the cooperatives set up community farm schools where farmers were trained on proper use of pesticides. Other training topics included Good Agricultural Practices, environmental management and the use of fertilizers. During the farm schools, producers were also further inducted on Fairtrade standards and working conditions.
In addition, Ecookim and Coopaako supplied their producers with protective clothes and atomizers (a device for converting chemicals to a fine spray). Regular medical check-ups were set up for those who come in contact with pesticides. Coopaako decided to construct its central chemical storage room 14 km away from residential areas. The cooperative also appointed an environmental activities supervisor.
A big investment, the organisations used the Fairtrade premiums to cover some of the main costs, including the training, salary payment of 21 producers who apply the pesticides, cost of motorcycles and fuel for the farm control agents and cost of medication.
Click here for a breakdown of the expenses.
The training has become a yearly programme and all farmers are now educated on the proper application of pesticides. They now successfully tackle pests while maintaining higher yields, while protecting their health.
Case study 3 – A demonstration plot
Pest and diseases like leaf rust and leaf miner have contributed to huge losses at Kaliluni Farmers’ Co-operative Society. Leaf rust was causing premature shedding of leaves, reducing the growth of stems. The bugs burrowed through the coffee leaves inhibiting photosynthesis. Although farmers understood they needed to apply pesticides to save their crop, they lacked adequate knowledge to identify the specific treatment.
The organisation reached out to its partner the Swedish Co-operative Centre and its miller Coffee Nap, who trained 41 farmers last year. The farmers were selected based on their good health, a key requirement when using chemicals. They gained knowledge on the different types of pesticides and how to apply them. Farmers whose coffee farms are located at higher altitude were told to spray four times more than those based at a lower altitude. To facilitate easy Fairtrade auditing, they also were taught how to keep records on pesticide use. As a final part of the training they were shown how to store pesticides safely in an airtight box.
After the training sessions the farmers set up a demonstration plot where they applied the pesticides, observing the changes for one month. Soon they started noticing the disappearance of the bugs and the rust. As a next step the farmers took the initiative of sharing their new knowledge and experiences with other farmer members.
The purchase of protective clothing and the correct pesticides; and payment of the facilitator were sponsored by Swedish Co-operative Centre together with Coffee Nap.
Kaliluni facilitated the farmers’ transport and lunch for the weeklong training. The organisation also paid the 41 farmers Ksh300 per day (USD 3) to attend the training. The farmers were also given loans to purchase the chemicals, to be paid back after the harvest.
Coffee has improved in quality and quantity. Before they started using the pesticides the farmers harvested 50,000 kg per 420 acres. Today they receive 160,000kg per the same acre size.
The next best practice session will address packaging. Please contact us if you have a story to share.
Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or +254 0202 1930.