Pesticides and Policy: The Impact of Integrated Pest Management on the Indonesian Economy
Budi P. Resosudarmo
Throughout Asia, hazardous chemicals, mainly farm pesticides, are stockpiled in warehouses and factories, posing major safety and health hazards to residents. The problem has become so serious that it has been labeled a "toxic time bomb" by the Food and Agriculture Organization. One of the most important measures to reduce the use of pesticides is integrated pest management (IPM), a package of practices that includes the use of manual labour, natural predators and careful timing of smaller doses. A key element of the program, and one of its biggest costs, is training of farmers in its use. Indonesia has been one the leaders in the use of IPM. Since 1989, a national IPM program has helped farmers in Indonesia reduce their dependence on pesticides and increase their harvests. It has also dramatically reduced the incidence of pesticide-related illnesses and environmental pollution. However, in 1999 the World Bank loan that was financing the program was terminated and the scheme was all but cancelled. Now, a new piece of research has shown that, rather than abandon the program, it makes economic sense for the Indonesian government to self-finance the scheme and increase the national IPM budget. The study found that the IPM program is not only beneficial to farmers and the environment but that it also stimulates and benefits the overall Indonesian economy.
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