Economic And Institutional Aspects Determining Pesticide Use In Smallholder Cotton Production In Zimbabwe: A Case Study Of Rushinga District, Mount Darwin
Mudimu, Godfrey D.
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The general objective of the study is to investigate the economics of and factors influencing pesticide use in smallholder cotton production using Rushinga as a case study. The study takes place at a time when there is growing concern about the increased use of pesticides in the developing countries and the associated externality problems. Gross margin analysis showed that pesticide use is financially profitable for the smallholder cotton producer. Gross margin per hectare averaged $3 173. Gross margin per dollar invested in pesticides and per labor day was $4,14 and $22,19 respectively. The study established that smallholder cotton farmers do not over-apply pesticides. Pesticide application rates for all types of chemicals applied falls short of the recommended application rates. This was consistent with expert assessment that there is under use of pesticides in the smallholder cotton production in Zimbabwe. Chemical control emerged as the major strategy available to and practiced by farmers to control pests in cotton production. Non chemical solutions to pest problems and integrated pest management (IPM) are virtually unknown to most of the farmers. The study established that there is lack of information on non-chemical methods at the farm level. Institutional factors such as credit and extension are the major factors enhancing pesticide use in the Zimbabwean agricultural sector. Virtually all the farmers in the sample received credit for the acquisition of pesticides and other inputs from COTTCO. Extension advice on pesticide use is largely provided by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO), which provides only chemical solutions to pest problems to smallholder cotton farmers. The role of public extension service in pesticide extension was found to be very limited. Externalities (poisoning and damage to the environment) of pesticide use are largely unknown at the farm level implying that externality costs are not taken into account in decision making on how much pesticides to use. The study recommends that policy instruments designed to provide information, education and training on pesticide use and the risks associated with pesticide use should be implemented in Zimbabwe. Integrated Pest Management should also be disseminated to the farm level through active public extension service. Detailed research on pesticide productivity in cotton production is necessary.