Wisdom of Life

Project 1

Study the Assessment of the Impacts of the use of Pesticides in the Agriculture Sector on the Environment of Juniper Forests inZiaratValley

Timeframe :

06 Months

Donors / Sponsors:

IUCN

Geographical Coverage :

ZiaratValley, Balochistan

Objectives of the Project:

Following are the main objectives of this study:

  •       Assessment of the impacts of chemical pesticides in the agriculture sector on the environment of Juniper Forests inZiaratValley
  •       Development of recommendations to mitigate the negative impacts of chemical pesticides by gradually reducing and then eliminating their use with alternative environment friendly approaches.

Methodology :

A set of field based methodologies along with focused group questionnaire performa was developed. Following are the key components of the methodology for collection of required information:

  •       Collection and review of primary data
  •       Stakeholders identification and analysis
  •       Organize consultative sessions with stakeholders
  •       Field visits to the horticulture and crop sites
  •       Meetings with pesticides dealers
  •       Collection of samples for lab tests to determine pesticide residues
  •       Verification of the primary data through secondary data
  •       Review of historical records of the use of pesticides and trends
  •       Meetings with local government departments
  •       Review of the local governance system for policy formulation

The target population consists of the forest community, NGOs/CBOs, government functionaries and international development organizations being relevant stakeholders who have concerns with the Juniper forests in the project area. The goal directed sampling technique was used to collect data randomly according to the predefined strata of 200 individuals. The questionnaire was divided into three parts that includes the sections, (a) general information about stakeholders, (b) pesticides, juniper forests and agriculture and (c) recommendations.

Impact Assessment Tools :

A range of tools were developed for pesticides impact assessment which determined the basis for findings as well as recommendations proposed through this study. Following are the components of the impact assessment tools:

  •       Prevalent trends of the use of chemical pesticides
  •       Historical record of the pesticides import in the project area
  •       Reflections of the stakeholders about use of chemical pesticides

Brief Questionnaire Analysis :

Level of perspicacity of the rural communities about the use of pesticides in agriculture sector in the context of juniper forest was poor. Most of the community members even didn’t know that whether productivity is decreasing as a result of the excessive use of pesticides in the juniper forest area. They were of the view that productivity can be increased with the suitable applications of pesticides. Pesticides dealers were of the same view that agricultural productivity can be increased by the usage of pesticides applications as per their requirement and the concept of low productivity on the basis of excessive applications of pesticides is erroneous as developed countries such as USA, UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Australia and China achieved remarkable progress in the field of productivity enhanced-based pesticides. As a result, the agricultural productivity of these countries is escalating which contributing a major source of income.

The use of pesticides will increase in future as pests attack is increasing and people are trying to fertile the more area of land to increase their income level so that they may be able to meet the additional necessities.

However, the concept of some of the high level experts including NGOs and government departments was better than rural communities regarding the practices and impacts of pesticides on agriculture sector. They were of the view that most of its impacts are negative not only on agricultural productivity but also on the environment of juniper forests in the area. On short term basis, people may get benefits of the use of pesticides to control the pests and productivity enhancement but on long-term basis these pesticides are not sustainable for productivity enhancement as well as conservation of environment. There is need to introduce the alternative technologies for pesticides so that environment may not be polluted and sterilized food be obtained.

All of the people were concurred that the unavailability of natural gas is the core issue in the juniper forest area. Juniper forests are on great jeopardy as people need firewood on daily basis for cooking, boiling as well as heating themselves. As a result, juniper forests are reducing in size as well as quality. There is no possibility to provide natural gas to the local people in near future as government is not taking any solemn interest and action in this regard. Those days are not far-off when juniper forests will be eliminating and people were in intricacy for search of firewood. The prices of wood will not only be increased but also environment will be badly affected. This is needed to tackle this issue with ironed-hand by motivating or putting pressure on government to provide natural gas on priority basis in the area.

According to the local people, how we can protect or play role to the development of juniper forests as majority of the people are living below the poverty line. They have lack of life sustenance of which natural gas is one of the important factors in term of hindrance to the development of juniper forests. Government is completely ignoring the rural communities by providing them basic facilities as Balochistan is one of main producer and supplier of natural gas.

The rural communities were unable to judge the negative impacts of pesticides on agriculture sector in the context of juniper forests because of lack of awareness and low level of knowledge to understand the pesticide issue. Most of the people were of the view that pesticides are not detrimental for juniper forests. According to them, pesticide is an important factor for agriculture development and productivity enhancement. But some of the experts highlighted this issue logically as the sprays of pesticide polluted the environment which disturbs the roots and leaves of juniper trees. As a result, junipers growth is affected which is deleterious for not only environment but also health of the human being.

According to the local communities, some locally manufactured and Iranian pesticides are not effective to control the attack of pests on the crop. However, imported pesticides are very efficient to control the pests attack. Majority of the people purchase imported pesticides so that it may be effectively kill the pests and enhanced the production. Usually, people of the area approach to local pesticides dealers to get the pest control advice. Sometimes, they may get such information from relevant people or relatives. Sometimes, staff of pesticide companies visit these areas and provide pest control information and techniques for spraying pesticides in the field.

All of the people surrounding the juniper forests were of the view that pesticide is the only tool to protect their crops from pests and they were agreed that effective pesticides can boost up the yield. They are also observing the increased yield with the continuous application of suitable pesticide.

The main sources of livelihoods are agriculture, livestock, labour and small business, etc. Livestock also graze in the field of juniper forest. In this way, juniper forests not only providing firewood to the local inhabitants but also nourishing the large segment of livestock. The people of the area were not satisfied with the availability of pastures for livestock. They have lot of concerns that as forests is one of the main sources to feed the livestock but forests are vanishing away. Therefore, livestock may be at risk in the coming future due to unavailability of pastures.

They were of the view that livelihood is not affected by the use of pesticides as livelihood and pesticides are two totally different sections. Livelihood and pesticides are not dependent to each other. Local communities have no idea to the deleterious effects of pesticides as they were bound on their own statement that pesticides have positive impacts on agriculture sector. Some of them were of the view; sprayer and surrounding people have to face health problems due to airing smell during the practices of pesticides in the field. They have to face air pollution and some diseases such as breathing problems, cancer, eye soaring, headache, etc.

They were not aware about the alternative technologies to pesticides such as the practices of bio-products on the crop. They even didn’t know as what are bio-products and how we can get advantages but some high level people were agreed that people of the area can decrease cost of production as well as increase productivity while reducing the risks of health with the introduction and applications of IPM Packages / bio-products. They further said that qualified NGOs should have to provide such facilities to the local people of the area as government seems completely lack of technical expertise and resources.

All inhabitants living around the juniper forests bring firewood from junipers. However, during rainy season, they have to purchase from outside the area. But habitually, people make stock to meet the unpredicted situation. Before 2 decade, the area was covered with full of juniper forests but with the passage of time, population is increasing and they need more firewood to meet-up the requirement of cooking, boiling and heating. Due to unavailability of natural gas in the area, people are exercised to cut juniper trees for their kitchen-requirements. All of them were agreed that juniper forests have been decreasing since the last many years. During 2000 to 2005, human interventions increased excessively for cutting down the juniper trees not only for their own use but also for illegal selling the wood. Government is not taking any action against these illegal human interventions. It seems that government is also involved in this activity. Green area is going to merge into desiccated.

Government efforts to save or look after the juniper forests are zero. The forest department is not paying any attention to promote and protect the juniper forests. One of the major hindrances to the development of juniper forests is unavailability of natural gas. People were making objection on the government that Baluchistan share main contribution for supplying natural gas but they are facing gas problems.

As regards biodiversity, most of the inhabitants were of the view that rate of deforestation was increasing to meet the fuel requirements. As a result, a number of rare species of plants having medicinal importance disappeared from the area. A continuous rise in temperature was being noticed since last many years. In addition to this, an increase in the span of summer season with more intense weather conditions was also being felt. Contrary to this, winter with short span but with higher intensity was also noticed.

Before 50 – 60 years, there was no pesticide in this area. Local people were utilized conventional methods and techniques for cultivating crops such as bull, animal waste.  There is limited role of the NGOs to develop the juniper forests as well as agriculture. A number of NGOs came just to study the area and get opinions of the people. They assemble the people by making small groups, interview them and fill up some forms. But they did nothing practically to re-forest the juniper forests.

Findings of the Study :

  • Based on the analysis of primary and secondary data, field visits, physical examination of damage symptoms, morphological characteristics of plants, lab tests of the field samples and feedback of the farming communities in the area, findings of the study were prepared. Following are the important findings of the study:
  •       As a whole, the number of sprays of chemical pesticides on agricultural crops is gradually increasing. On average, the number of sprays on fruit and vegetable crops has reached to 5. On other food crops, about 1 to 2 sprays are applied.
  •       Resistance against chemical pesticides among insect pests has developed very fast. As a result, the farmers have to either increase the number of pesticide sprays or look for highly hazardous chemicals irrespective of their long-term negative impacts on ecology, although they have low level of understanding about harmful impacts of pesticides on environment.
  •       Natural insect pollinators are fast depleting affecting the plant pollination process in the local agro-ecological system.
  •       95% farmers seek advice for pesticides sprays directly from pesticides dealers in the market as either none of the agricultural expert is available or they don’t have access to them.
  •       Historically, pesticide use started some 30 years back; initially with 1 to 2 sprays on orchards followed by vegetables and other food crops.
  •       Pesticides are easily available in the local market on pesticides shops or the farmers bring fromQuetta. The pesticides dealers in the capital city ofQuettaimport pesticides mainly fromKarachiandLahoremarkets. However, a proportion of dealers import fromAfghanistanthrough smuggling or fromIran.
  •       The pesticides reaching to farmers viaAfghanistanare mostly of Chinese origin.
  •       The farmers don’t have any discrimination of highly or moderately hazardous pesticides or whether or not they have any traces of banned chemicals.
  •       The local farmers don’t know about the useful and harmful insects. Therefore, they have to use pesticides indiscriminately. As a result, most of the beneficial insects are also killed leading towards development of resistance among the harmful insects.
  •       The main crop is apple, peaches, cherries, etc. The morphological and physiological impacts of pesticides on these crops are clearly visible but the farmers don’t care about these damage symptoms as they are only concerned about immediate pest control and higher productivity against the investments being carried out on farming.
  •       The results of the fields’ samples for soil, water, plant samples and juniper leaves and seeds are awaited. (The presumption is that would certainly contain pesticide residues).
  •       Pesticides would certainly be having some level of negative impacts on the Juniper forest area (Lab results awaited). Farmers don’t believe that pesticides have any negative impacts on juniper forests in the area.
  •       Irrespective of the negative impacts of pesticides on the juniper ecology or forest area, farmers believe that numbers of birds’ species such as emigrating fromSiberiaare fast decreasing either due to ongoing global warming phenomenon or increasing use of chemical pesticides on agricultural crops in the Juniper forest area. The birds species particularly Sarah and Chokor are decreasing as well as pollinating insects such as honeybees’ population are fast decreasing.
  •       There is a general understanding among the farmers that as a result of routine pesticide sprays in the season, they suffer from nausea, headache, skin irritation, indigestion for days. In their views, these are ordinary diseases. A small proportion of farmers about 5% use protective coverings during spraying.
  •       Being influenced by increasing food requirements and overwhelmed by higher crop production, 90% of the farmers are oblivious to the negative impacts of pesticides on their crops, biodiversity and human health.
  •       There is lack of awareness among the farmers about alternative environmental approaches for crop protection such as biological based Integrated Crop Management (ICM) or Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Recommendations to Protect the Juniper Forests in Ziarat Valley:

  •       Provision of natural gas to the local inhabitants living around the juniper forests
  •       Introduction of IPM packages such as bio-products, bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides, etc.
  •       Re-forestation based activities so that junipers’ growth may be enhanced
  •       Awareness workshops about the importance and protection of junipers in the area
  •       Monitoring the illegal activities around the juniper forests

Keeping in view fast increasing negative impacts of chemical pesticides in the area, there is dire need for development and introduction of alternative environment friendly crop protection and management practices based on sound scientific knowledge. These interventions could not be successes unless, the highest level of mass awareness, farm based training and education is provided to the farmers at the same time. To go ahead, a range of long-term and short-term recommendations are proposed to reverse the situation in the project area.


 

Conserving Natural Resource Base and Promoting Human Development through Sharing Knowledge, Exchanging Practices and Co-creating Future