|Initial Environmental Assessment: Plant Protection - Series no 13 (NORAD, 1995)|
|Part I: General account|
|3 Possible environ mental impacts|
For many small farmers pesticides can be an expensive investment in agricultural production. The use of pesticides may lead to debt problems in the event of crop failure caused by other factors than pests, for example drought.
Herbicides in particular can reduce the demand for labour. A considerable part of agricultural labour in the plant production in developing countries is related to weeding. Consequently, a conversion to pesticides may cause higher local unemployment. If there are few alternative jobs in the area, people may move to the bigger cities. Women and men will be affected differently by such changes. Generally speaking, the weeding is the responsibility of women, whereas men handle machinery and other technical equipment. This division of labour can lead to higher unemployment among women then among men if there is a conversion from weeding to the use of herbicides.
No plant is originally a weed. Plants become weeds when we no longer want them. The distinction between weeds and useful plants is consequently unclear and depends on the situation. In developing countries some plants which are usually regarded as weeds are harvested and used for food. In areas treated with herbicides this option is drastically reduced.
The conversion to pesticides can affect other types of agriculture in the area. For example, the use of insecticides can reduce the number of utility insects in the area. This can reduce the crops for farmers who use such insects to control insect pests.