The “Global assessment of the impact of plant protection products on soil functions and soil ecosystems” prepared by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) evaluates the impact of Plant Protection products, a subset of the overall range of pesticides, against the definition of sustainable soil management, in particular against soil biodiversity, soil functions, water quality and soil erosion. It provides a high-level, global-scale scientific opinion on the effects of plants protection products on soil functions and biodiversity.
PPPs are pesticide products used to prevent, destroy or control any pest that can cause harm during the production, processing, storage, transport or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood and wood products, according to the FAO. PPPs, according to the report, have become widely used in agriculture and many other settings such as urban gardens and parks, with their sales projected to increase annually by almost six per cent, and reaching US$68.5 billion by 2017.
But the report adds that the use of PPP could be reduced through soil-specific measures such as the reduction of runoff by improving soil structure or preserving plant residues and measures such as vegetated buffer strips or constructed wetlands.
Jane Ambuko, a senior lecturer and head of horticulture, Faculty of Agriculture, University of
Nairobi, Kenya, calls on African governments, institutions, and policymakers to create initiatives and capacity building programmes to help identify research gaps in pesticides use and impacts.
A well-designed scientific research on PPP in representative African soils should be carried out to address pesticide fate in African farming systems. More importantly, studies on integrated pest management appropriate for African conditions should be supported and completed so that environmentally sound and socially acceptable method of pest control can be developed, which may or may not have a place for PPP. Research on PPP and integrated pest management are of direct benefit to farmers if crop losses due to pests can be minimised and higher yields of crops are produced.