Implementing Agri-policies on Pesticide Reduction through Subsidies and Plant Clinics in China
Published: October, 2019
This study assesses whether the implementation of agricultural policy through plant clinic-linked subsidy programmes can lead to a reduction in pesticide use. A governmental “Green Pest Control” subsidy programme has been coordinated by the Beijing Plant Protection Station since 2009. In 2017, the subsidy programme was combined with the Plantwise plant clinic network to increase outreach to smallholder farmers. A new online system, the “Beijing Pesticide Reduction Management System” was established as an extension of the “Plantwise Online Management System”. It manages prescription data, subsidies, plant clinics, agri-input shops and suppliers, and monitors processes and outputs.
We analysed 72,474 prescription forms issued by plant doctors to over 6000 farmers in the Beijing area between 2015 and 2018 to assess changes in pesticide recommendations, and in 2018 also changes in sales. Of the 30 million CNY (4.4 million USD) spent on subsidies in 2018, 66% were spent on macrobial natural enemies, 14% on plant protection tools, 11% on biopesticides, 6% on pollinators and 3% on least toxic/residual chemical pesticides, representing 20%, 3%, 34%, 6% and 37% of prescriptions and sales, respectively. Prescriptions for non-chemical plant protection products increased by 20%, and prescriptions for pesticides decreased by 4%. The crop area treated with non-chemical or least toxic/residual pesticides was 45% greater in 2018 than in 2015. The number of yearly prescriptions tripled from between 10,000 and 13,000 to 37,000+; each clinic issuing 20% more prescriptions. The combination of pesticide reduction policies, subsidies and effective agricultural extension services such as plant clinics appears to be a sound example of successful agri-policy implementation.
Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.