For the past five years the Pequeño Agricultor (small farmers) (PAS) Project has been training small farmers in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Cost Rica on how to handle and apply crop protection products (pesticides) safely and effectively for a more sustainable agriculture.
- By 2008 nearly 71,000 farmers had been trained and certified by local authorities
The communities are delighted.
“ … we want to thank you on behalf of the Tierralta Municipality for the great job done during last year in our fields in training our farmers” wrote the director of the Department of Córdoba’s UMATAMA (agricultural technical support unit). Colombia
“We send you a cordial greeting … to acknowledge the important work that you have been carrying out to help the farmers and peasants of the central region of our country ... which we are sure will strengthen the development of the farming & animal husbandry sector.” ‘Simón Rodriguez’ Farming & Animal Husbandry Corporation of Ecuador.
Thank you for the : “ … support given to farmers through the [product] training, whose proper and effective use you have ensured, thanks to the training you provide.” The Municipality of San Miguel de Acos, Peru,
About the PAS Project
The PAS project started in 2003 in Colombia across the departments of Córdoba, Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Boyacá and Nariño. In 2006 project was extended to include Chimborazo province in Ecuador and to communities in Peru around Cusco and the Sierra de Lima.
The Peruvian PAS project consists of 14 village communities in the Limatambo district of the Andes, some in very remote areas.
The project aims to improve the social, environmental and economic aspects of farming in each community, principally by training farmers in the safe and effective use of crop protection products. Farmers are taught the correct ways to
- calculate doses
- calibrate and maintain their sprayers, and
- dispose of empty containers.
A particular focus is on the use of a non-selective herbicide which is useful in these circumstances for two reasons.
- Soil erosion can be a major problem on the often sloping fields of the project areas. Minimum tillage or no tillage can help to stabilize the soil reducing the risk of erosion. Using a non-selective herbicide to control weeds before planting removes the need for ploughing as a means to control weeds.
- Later when crops such as corn, potatoes and other vegetables are established, The herbicide can be used to control weeds growing between rows of plants. This relieves farmers’ families of the drudgery of hand weeding. A special benefit is that this allows children to spend more time in school. Better weed control means better yields, more food and more opportunities to earn money.