This study, as the initial part of a broader project, aimed to collect background data about pesticide use in the West Bank.
In line with international norms, results have shown that pesticide usage is greater in areas of intensive and high value crop cultivation. More pesticides are used for crops grown under plastic than for those grown in open irrigation systems.
The survey reveals widespread problems in both usage and disposal of pesticides. Fourteen of the pesticides used in the West Bank are either suspended, cancelled or banned by the World Health Organization. Most of the labels continue to be in Hebrew, a language that most of the farmers don't read. There is little, if any, extension help available to farmers. Storage and disposal of pesticides seem to be less than adequate, as is understanding of the dangers of pesticide use. Most of the farmers interviewed expressed the belief that they were developing immunity to pesticide toxicity through usage.
Encouraging signs are that the farmers interviewed were very interested in learning more about pest control. A relatively high number of farmers in Palestine said that they read and followed advice given in agricultural publications. This suggests that training, using documentation in combination with onsite demonstrations, will be possible. Furthermore, 55% of farmers interviewed recognized that there are beneficial organisms in the soil, though only just over half of this number recognized that pesticides were harmful to these organisms. This understanding of the importance of maintaining ecological balance represents a significant basis for IPM training.
Clearly, improving farmers' understanding of the ecological system with which they are working is vital. This includes improved understandings of the importance of soil organisms and of pestpredator relationships; and understanding of the concept of economic threshold. Farmers, residents in areas near to farms and consumers all need to be more aware of toxicity levels. Education is the key to coming to terms with the problems of pesticide usage in the West Bank.