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close this bookInitial Environmental Assessment: Plant Protection - Series no 13 (NORAD, 1995)
close this folderPart I: General account
close this folder3 Possible environ mental impacts
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.1 Unintended spreading by air
View the document3.2 Unintended spreading on or through the soil
View the document3.3 Pollution of water
View the document3.4 Impacts of slow degradation in the soil
View the document3.5 Impacts on flora, fauna and vulnerable ecosystems
View the document3.6 Health problems
View the document3.7 Impacts on local communities, traditional ways of life and utilisation of natural resources

3.7 Impacts on local communities, traditional ways of life and utilisation of natural resources

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.