Feola, G.*, Binder C.R., Frame
conditions for a more sustainable pesticide use: evidence from
smallholding potato producers in Boyacá, Colombia. Tropentag 2009,
6-8 October 2009, University of Hamburg, Germany.*firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental, economic and health effects deriving from pesticide
overuse are considered among the most relevant threats to agricultural
sustainability and understanding farmers’ pesticide use is fundamental in
fostering a transition towards more sustainable agricultural practices.
The present paper addresses the issue of pesticide overuse and its
determinants among smallholder potato producers in four communities in the
Department of Boyacá, Colombia.
Firstly, pesticide use is analysed to determine which farmers are overusing
crop protection products and to what extent. In doing so, a measure of
overdosage and one of efficiency estimated through a damage abatement function
approach are compared. Secondly, the factors affecting farmers’ behaviour are
investigated though a multinomial regression approach, based on the integrated
agent-centred (IAC) framework.
The analysis shows that relevant differences existed between and within
the four communities and that these also depend on the product considered (i.e.
fungicide or insecticide). Moreover, while the two definitions of overuse
tended to converge, inefficiency has to be preferred to overdosage, because it
better represents farmers’ crop protection strategies.
The analysis also shows that external conditions tended to prevail over
internal factors in influencing farmers’ decisions. Technical aspects (the area
of the parcel), training and educational level, membership in a cooperative and
income level were among the most influential aspects for determining farmer
level of efficiency.
Finally, the analysis suggests that frame conditions for a more
sustainable pesticide use are not static. Instead, feedback processes exist in
the agricultural system between the environmental and social subsystems (i.e.
farmers’ adaptive behaviour to perceived pest resistance) and between the micro
and macro level (i.e. farmers’ conformity to the social norm). Such feedback
processes need to be addressed extensively both at conceptual and
methodological level (e.g. IAC framework and simulation modelling
respectively), in order to support a transition towards more sustainable