Sustainable Cotton Production through Skill Development among Farmers: Evidence from Khairpur District of Sindh, Pakistan

Publication Year : 2005

Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest producer and one of the major cottonexporting countries. Cotton is grown largely in Punjab and Sindh provinces and accounts for about 10.5 percent of the value-added in the agriculture sector. The majority of cotton growers are smallholders and a large number of them are tenant farm households. Frequent pest outbreaks since the early 1990s have induced pesticide-based farming in Pakistan. Also, the liberalisation of generic pesticide import has resulted in a many-fold increase in pesticide use in the country. However, this has neither increased cotton productivity nor the prosperity of the poor cotton growers [Poswal and Williamson (1998) and Ahmad and Poswal (2000)]. In Pakistan, research and development in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was initiated in the 1970s. However, the efforts to implement IPM at the farm level were not very successful. Pesticides became a major instrument of production leading to a ‘pesticide treadmill’ situation [Irshad (2000)]. An analysis of pesticide policies through the UNDP-FAO Policy Reform Project paved the way for the establishment of a National IPM Programme and provided instruments to scale up farmer-led IPM through joint international and national efforts on various fronts. Pesticide policy studies estimated environmental and social cost of pesticides in Pakistan at US$ 206 million per year [UNDP (2001) and Azeem, et al. (2003)]. About 49 percent of these external costs were attributed to pest resistance problems, while 29 percent to loss in bio-diversity and nearly 20 percent occurred to human and animal health. On the other hand, damage prevention expenditures for residue monitoring and raising public awareness on the dangers of pesticides is less than 2 percent of the total social costs of pesticides.