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Daily News Blog

11
Apr

International Aid Needed To Support Traditional and Organic, Not Chemical-Intensive, Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2022) As the U.S. encourages the spread of chemical-intensive, industrialized agriculture, local farmers are increasingly pressured into giving up traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures to increase the demand  for agrichemical pesticides and fertilizers worldwide. This policy is promoted by the industry with vested economic interests as good for the U.S. economy, but it is not good for either planetary health or global food security. Instead, U.S. foreign aid agencies, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other agencies, should be supporting traditional practices and organic agriculture.

Tell Congress and U.S. AID to support aid that promotes traditional and organic agriculture. 

Industrial agriculture depends on monoculture—growing single crops that can be easily planted, fertilized, treated with pesticides, and harvested—especially on large-scale, mechanized farms. In spite of the perceived advantages of monoculture, however, it is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. Loss of biodiversity feeds the pesticide treadmill by removing predators and parasites who keep crop-feeding insects below damaging levels. The vast majority of crop plants depend on pollinators.


Traditional agriculture, like organic agriculture, depends on interacting species. Most organic agriculture resembles monoculture piecewise, but integrates cover crops, hedgerows and other natural areas, and crop diversity. Traditional agriculture frequently involves plant polycultures—such as the corn-beans-squash polyculture of Native Americans—but also integrates animals. A traditional rice paddy that incorporates fish or other aquatic animals is an example of the latter. Research shows that such systems not only protect global ecosystems, but can also yield more food.

Traditional and organic agriculture do not depend on the petroleum-based pesticides that keep industrial agriculture running. Nor do they depend on synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, a source of nitrous oxide, or NOx — another potent greenhouse gas that also pollutes the air and feeds the development of ozone. NOx is roughly 300 times as potent in trapping heat as CO2. They do not depend on synthetic pesticides that poison our soil, air, water, and ecosystems, as well as people.

The U.S. government’s international aid must aggressively and urgently support traditional agricultural systems that meet organic standards. Instead, USAID has used an “Invitation for Applications” in its Feed the Future program (Bangladesh Rice and Diversified Crops Activity) that describes “farm production challenges” for rice production that may allow for the introduction of practices and materials (pesticides and fertilizers) that undermine traditional and organic practices. The USAID states the following:

      Farm Production Challenges

     Farmers have limited availability of quality commercial rice inputs such as short duration
     and high yielding varieties, climate resilient varieties, pest and disease resistance varieties 
     seeds, fertilizers (macro & micro), crop protection products (especially for insect, disease &
     weed control).

     Inadequate information and knowledge for farmers on the benefits of quality seeds, new
     varieties, modern cultivation practices (appropriate age of seedling, judicious use of
     fertilizer
& pesticides) and post-harvest practices, and rice-based cropping system.

     Farmers lack of linkages with product buyers (small to large) and processing plants (small
     engleberg friction, semi-auto, and auto rice millers).

Embracing a sustainable future requires an honoring of traditional agricultural methods and organic practices that work in sync with nature and advances food security worldwide.

Tell Congress and U.S. AID to support aid that promotes traditional and organic agriculture. 

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators:

As the U.S. encourages the spread of chemical-intensive, industrialized agriculture, local farmers are increasingly pressured into giving up traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures to that increase agrichemical use worldwide. This policy is promoted by the industry with vested economic interests as good for the U.S. economy, but it is not good for either planetary health or global food security. Instead, U.S. foreign aid agencies should be supporting traditional practices. It is time for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other agencies to aggressively and urgently support traditional agricultural systems that meet organic standards.

Meanwhile, studies are showing that local economies in developing countries are best served by traditional agricultural practices. Research shows that such systems not only protect global ecosystems, but can also yield more food. An article, “Using aquatic animals as partners in increase yield and maintain soil nitrogen in the paddy ecosystems,” published eLife, shows a yield increase in rice production with co-cultures.

Industrial agriculture depends on monoculture—growing single crops that can be easily planted, fertilized, treated with pesticides, and harvested—especially on large-scale, mechanized farms. In spite of the perceived advantages of monoculture, however, it is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. Loss of biodiversity feeds the pesticide treadmill by removing predators and parasites who keep crop-feeding insects below damaging levels. The vast majority of crop plants depend on pollinators.

Traditional agriculture and organic agriculture, depend on interacting species. Most organic agriculture resembles monoculture piecewise, but integrates cover crops, hedgerows and other natural areas, and crop diversity. Traditional agriculture frequently involves plant polycultures—such as the corn-beans-squash polyculture of Native Americans—but also integrates animals. A traditional rice paddy that incorporates fish or other aquatic animals is an example of the latter.

Traditional and organic agriculture do not depend on the petroleum-based pesticides that keep industrial agriculture running. Nor do they depend on synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, a source of nitrous oxide, or NOx — another potent greenhouse gas that also pollutes the air and feeds the development of ozone. NOx is roughly 300 times as potent in trapping heat as CO2. They do not depend on synthetic pesticides that poison our soil, air, water, and ecosystems, as well as people.

Please urge USAID to promote traditional and organic agriculture in its funding and support programs. Embracing a sustainable future requires an honoring of traditional agricultural methods and organic practices that work in sync with nature and advance food security worldwide.

Thank you.

Letter to U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):

As the U.S. encourages the spread of chemical-intensive, industrialized agriculture, local farmers are increasingly pressured into giving up traditional agricultural practices in favor of monocultures to that increase agrichemical use worldwide. This policy is promoted by the industry with vested economic interests as good for the U.S. economy, but it is not good for either planetary health or global food security. Instead, U.S. foreign aid agencies should be supporting traditional practices. It is time for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other agencies to aggressively and urgently support traditional agricultural systems that meet organic standards.

Meanwhile, studies are showing that local economies in developing countries are best served by traditional agricultural practices. Research shows that such systems not only protect global ecosystems, but can also yield more food. An article, “Using aquatic animals as partners in increase yield and maintain soil nitrogen in the paddy ecosystems,” published eLife, shows a yield increase in rice production with co-cultures.

Industrial agriculture depends on monoculture—growing single crops that can be easily planted, fertilized, treated with pesticides, and harvested—especially on large-scale, mechanized farms. In spite of the perceived advantages of monoculture, however, it is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. Loss of biodiversity feeds the pesticide treadmill by removing predators and parasites who keep crop-feeding insects below damaging levels. The vast majority of crop plants depend on pollinators.

Traditional agriculture and organic agriculture, depend on interacting species. Most organic agriculture resembles monoculture piecewise, but integrates cover crops, hedgerows and other natural areas, and crop diversity. Traditional agriculture frequently involves plant polycultures—such as the corn-beans-squash polyculture of Native Americans—but also integrates animals. A traditional rice paddy that incorporates fish or other aquatic animals is an example of the latter.

Traditional and organic agriculture do not depend on the petroleum-based pesticides that keep industrial agriculture running. Nor do they depend on synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, a source of nitrous oxide, or NOx — another potent greenhouse gas that also pollutes the air and feeds the development of ozone. NOx is roughly 300 times as potent in trapping heat as CO2. They do not depend on synthetic pesticides that poison our soil, air, water, and ecosystems, as well as people.

I urge USAID to promote traditional and organic agriculture in its funding and support programs. Embracing a sustainable future requires an honoring of traditional agricultural methods and organic practices that work in sync with nature and advance food security worldwide.

Thank you.

 

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