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Title: Relationships of pesticides, agri-aquatic systems and livelihoods : insights from Asia
Author: Milwain, Garry K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 2407
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2014
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In Asia, the recent rapid growth in production of higher value, more pesticide intensive, horticultural crops and inland aquatic foods in linked agri-aquatic systems poses numerous environmental, health and wider livelihood threats in these often multi-use aquatic systems. ‘Green Revolution’ technologies have enhanced food security and pesticides have been promoted, however, the sustainability of prolonged pesticide use from a functional, environmental and socio-economic perspective is increasingly questionable. Further, despite international pesticide trade agreements and country-specific legislation, illegal practices still prevail. In Thailand and Sri Lanka the influence of pesticide marketing and regulation on pesticide use and hazards was investigated. Community livelihood relationships with three very different agri-aquatic systems (in Central and Northeast Thailand and Northwest Sri Lanka), pesticide use and associated aquatic and health hazards were explored with respect to surface water use and well-being status. Quantitative and qualitative data collection methods utilised participatory community appraisals, household surveys, pesticide fate in surface waters and dietary risk assessment and modelling, key informant semi-structured interviews and stakeholder workshops, to assess these relationships. Enhanced environmental and human pesticide hazards were contributed by pesticide sales incentives and weak regulation allowing illegal practices to prevail. Preliminary risk assessments found greater aquatic and human dietary pesticide hazards within communities, with the poorest at greatest vulnerability from applying pesticide and higher dependency on threatened natural aquatic food resources. The poorest in communities were most likely to overuse pesticide in Sri Lanka and were most vulnerable to illegal practices in the pesticide industry that are often linked with unauthorised traders and credit arrangements. Most horticultural production is for fresh wholesale markets with no food safety controls, and despite growing demand for safer horticultural produce, most farmers perceive pesticides as necessary, the associated hazards low and have little knowledge of safe food production and markets. These circumstances help sustain pesticide use. Some unofficial certification and misleading labelling in the ‘safe’ fruit and vegetable sector in Thailand potentially misinforms consumers and undermines trust that may threaten pesticide reduction efforts. Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and vegetable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) are evolving practices and techniques of producing horticultural crops with less or no pesticide, the latter sometimes through Farmer Field Schools (FFS), however, evidence of success varies. Teaching through lectures and more lengthy and costly participatory methods is evident, with the former more successful on GAP and higher educated farmers and the latter with IPM and worse-off farmers, particularly when addressed within livelihood issues as a whole. However, production scale, farmer enthusiasm, produce marketing and facilitator expertise all influence outcomes, particularly with IPM, whilst proper evaluation could improve progress. Growing rural consumer interest in organic produce offers further incentives for small to medium scale farmers to implement IPM and reduce pesticide use and hazards. As value of aquatic resources was an incentive to reducing pesticide use, particularly the most dangerous products, exploration of this component of agri-aquatic systems is another exciting prospect for empowering farming community livelihoods over established and failing fear based chemical practices. Such new practices may lead the way towards affordable and trustworthy agri-aquatic systems produce with ethical certification. Greater pesticide use savings on a wider scale come from use of efficient flat fan spray nozzles compared with conventional pesticide spray nozzles. Complementary policies and stakeholder co-operation could aid pesticide use and hazard reduction efforts. A number of recommendations arose from the research.
Supervisor: Little, David C. Sponsor: Department for International Development ; European Commission
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: pesticide ; agri-aquatic systems ; horticulture ; livelihoods ; Asia ; social ; environment ; Agriculture Asia ; Aquaculture Asia ; Horticulture Asia ; Pesticides ; Spray nozzles Design and construction