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Potato production and pesticide use in Ecuador: Linking impact assessment research and rural development intervention for greater eco-system health

By: Crissman, C | Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT), Mexico DF (Mexico) | International Conference on Impacts of Agricultural Research and Development San José (Costa Rica) 4-7 Feb 2002.
Contributor(s): Cole, D [coaut.] | Espinosa, P [coaut.] | Sherwood, S [coaut.] | Yanggen, D [coaut.] | Watson, D.J [ed.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookAnalytics: Show analyticsPublisher: Mexico, DF (Mexico) CIMMYT : 2003Description: p. 77.ISBN: 970-648-104-4.Subject(s): Ecosystems | Ecuador | Families | Farm sector | Health protection | Industry | Pesticides | Potatoes | Production economics | Rural development | CIMMYTDDC classification: 338.91 Summary: Most potato-farming families in the Carchi Province of Ecuador use the highly toxic insecticides carbofuran and methamidophos. Exposure to these neurotoxins causes health problems and productivity losses. An integrated research and intervention project, financed by the innovative IDRC-Ecosystem Health Program, aimed to reduce that exposure, whilst maintaining and, in some cases, enhancing farm productivity. This paper analyzes the results of a follow-up intervention project and survey that incorporates a longitudinal study to measure changes in neurobehavioral performance of farm families before and after exposure is reduced. The interventions are designed to influence social units, ranging from the farm family to the international community. The integration of participatory intervention techniques and sample- based quantitative research created tensions for the multidisciplinary team and demanded compromises that, on balance, have been positive. Drawing on risk reduction principles of industrial hygiene, our intervention program targets various levels of social aggregation with diverse strategies. At the farm and family levels, we have utilized individual counseling and farmer field schools for enhancing capacities in integrated pest management (IPM) and promoting safer pesticide use. Following training activities, which contributed to pesticide reductions, productivity increases and heightened awareness of the negative consequences of pesticides, farmers have shown a remarkable willingness to invest in personal protective equipment. At the community level, we worked with women's groups, primary schools, and community education campaigns. One particularly effective intervention was an action-research tracer study using fluorescent dyes to identify pesticide exposure pathways. At the regional level, we held public forums to inform and develop policy recommendations and used radio spots to increase public awareness. At the national level, together with the ministries of agriculture, health, and the environment, we supported a policy formulation and lobbying process that included information sessions with ministries and the pesticide industry, a public forum, and media events. Furthermore, we are coordinating with national programs throughout the Andes, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Latin American Pesticide Action Network, for regional-level advocacy. While the project has generated promising local results, the broader context will ultimately prevent lasting impact. Efforts to promote national-level policy intervention have arguably been futile due to internal political pressures that prevent rational policy formulation. As a result, the project has begun to use international support to provide further pressure for change. The combination of quantitative methods needed for rigorous economic and epidemiological analysis, and participatory methods needed for community-based action, created unique conflicts in disciplinary and methodological design. The rhythms of research and participatory intervention move at different cadences, calling for adjustments in both. Other conflicts include; participant-beneficiary control over activities, farm family sample identification and maintenance, burdening participants with tedious interviews, and scheduling measurements, interventions, and communications. Impact assessment research is often an ex-post, conducted long after the principals are dispersed. Consistent follow-up is key to obtaining impact from impact assessment. When integrated into an ongoing program, impact assessment provides mid-course guidance that can justify follow-up by actors that are still present.Collection: CIMMYT Publications Collection
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Conference proceedings CIMMYT Knowledge Center: John Woolston Library

Lic. Jose Juan Caballero Flores

 

CIMMYT Publications Collection 338.91 WAT (Browse shelf) 1 Available 1R632147
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Most potato-farming families in the Carchi Province of Ecuador use the highly toxic insecticides carbofuran and methamidophos. Exposure to these neurotoxins causes health problems and productivity losses. An integrated research and intervention project, financed by the innovative IDRC-Ecosystem Health Program, aimed to reduce that exposure, whilst maintaining and, in some cases, enhancing farm productivity. This paper analyzes the results of a follow-up intervention project and survey that incorporates a longitudinal study to measure changes in neurobehavioral performance of farm families before and after exposure is reduced. The interventions are designed to influence social units, ranging from the farm family to the international community. The integration of participatory intervention techniques and sample- based quantitative research created tensions for the multidisciplinary team and demanded compromises that, on balance, have been positive. Drawing on risk reduction principles of industrial hygiene, our intervention program targets various levels of social aggregation with diverse strategies. At the farm and family levels, we have utilized individual counseling and farmer field schools for enhancing capacities in integrated pest management (IPM) and promoting safer pesticide use. Following training activities, which contributed to pesticide reductions, productivity increases and heightened awareness of the negative consequences of pesticides, farmers have shown a remarkable willingness to invest in personal protective equipment. At the community level, we worked with women's groups, primary schools, and community education campaigns. One particularly effective intervention was an action-research tracer study using fluorescent dyes to identify pesticide exposure pathways. At the regional level, we held public forums to inform and develop policy recommendations and used radio spots to increase public awareness. At the national level, together with the ministries of agriculture, health, and the environment, we supported a policy formulation and lobbying process that included information sessions with ministries and the pesticide industry, a public forum, and media events. Furthermore, we are coordinating with national programs throughout the Andes, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Latin American Pesticide Action Network, for regional-level advocacy. While the project has generated promising local results, the broader context will ultimately prevent lasting impact. Efforts to promote national-level policy intervention have arguably been futile due to internal political pressures that prevent rational policy formulation. As a result, the project has begun to use international support to provide further pressure for change. The combination of quantitative methods needed for rigorous economic and epidemiological analysis, and participatory methods needed for community-based action, created unique conflicts in disciplinary and methodological design. The rhythms of research and participatory intervention move at different cadences, calling for adjustments in both. Other conflicts include; participant-beneficiary control over activities, farm family sample identification and maintenance, burdening participants with tedious interviews, and scheduling measurements, interventions, and communications. Impact assessment research is often an ex-post, conducted long after the principals are dispersed. Consistent follow-up is key to obtaining impact from impact assessment. When integrated into an ongoing program, impact assessment provides mid-course guidance that can justify follow-up by actors that are still present.

English

0310|AGRIS 0301|AL-Economics Program|R01PROCE

Juan Carlos Mendieta

CIMMYT Publications Collection

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