Fewer pesticides and higher yields and incomes

Sustainable cotton production

Cotton production has one of the worst impacts on the environment of any crop in the region, due to the effects on the fragile soils and excessive use of pesticides.

The IPPM programme is working with farmers to sustainably intensify the cotton production system, by boosting yields through the application of compost, the planting of leguminous cover crops, and the use of improved seeds and plant management techniques. Farmers are diversifying their use of cereal and soil improving crops (legumes and forage) that can be fed to animals or sold on local markets.

This year, the IPPM project is also starting to monitor pesticide residue levels in water samples taken from multiple sites in six West African countries along both the Niger and Senegal rivers. The programme is working in partnership with Oregon State University (USA) to build capacities of local laboratories to detect pesticides in water.

The $9.5mn second phase IPPM project in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal is funded by the government of the Netherlands. The purely economic returns easily cover the project costs within the lifespan of the project and there are multiple non-economic benefits, on community health, education and environment. Additional funding and partnerships are provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Environment Programme, the European Union and Spain.

If resources became available, as many as 500,000 farmers could be trained in the next five years at an estimated cost of around $30-40mn, FAO said.

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