The worldwide agricultural industry is facing unprecedented challenges, including growing populations, increasing consumer demands, and a shortage of available farmland. To increase crop yields in the face of these issues, farmers around the globe depend on agrochemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides.
Farmers in different nations face unique political, cultural, and environmental climates that affect their ability to thrive and influence what tools they use to help them do so. In developing countries, for example, farmers can rely on agrochemicals to help them overcome numerous problems, including the following:
Not Enough Usable Land
For obvious reasons, land is one of the most important components in a successful farming venture. However, in underdeveloped nations various land tenure systems have made it difficult for farmers to acquire new acreage. Land that is passed through inheritance, for example, becomes increasingly fragmented with each generation, and communal tenure systems discourage new owners from using their land for agricultural purposes. As a result, there is an increased pressure on farmers to produce more food on less available space.
Compounding the problem of land tenure is the loss of current agricultural land. According to recent studies, as many as 3 million hectares of land are lost worldwide each year due to soil erosion caused by wind or water. Additionally, people annually convert 4 million hectares of land for other uses, such as housing, roads, and other urban necessities. When coupled with a rising population, this loss of available land can be devastating to food supplies.
Farmers who must make do with limited space can still produce enough to thrive if they take advantage of modern pesticides and herbicides. For example, Indian Labour Statistics reveal that agrochemical use played a large part in the country’s ability to quadruple the production of grain on the same 169 hectares over a 50-year period.
Lack of Financing
In developing nations, many farmers lack access to lending institutions, and those that are able to find sources of funding have little to offer as collateral for loans because they are extremely poor. They are therefore unable to secure funding for needed equipment, which could help them increase their yields.
However, if these farmers use agrochemicals to reduce their crop losses from disease, pests, and weeds, then they can increase their profits and prove their creditworthiness to lenders. This extra income will enable them to finance improvements that can lead to even larger yields and eventual financial stability.
Particularly striking in developing nations is the considerable lack of education among farmers about technological advances. New farming tools, methods, and products are being developed, but many farmers lack the ability to participate in the training or have little understanding of why it is important. Additionally, many farmers are content to use the tools and techniques of yesterday, even if newer, improved versions are available.
Farming communities that embrace advancements like pesticides and herbicides can rise out of extreme poverty and afford amenities like electricity, schools, and health centers, which can lead to increased levels of education about modern farming techniques. In addition, people tend to remain in rural communities that provide these services (as opposed to leaving to find work in cities), thus increasing the available workforce and further improving crop production.
Most countries regulate the use of agrochemicals, but developing nations face additional challenges due to the extra restrictions they face. For most developing nations, agrochemicals are difficult to acquire due to transportation challenges and cost. The life expectancy of the materials also makes it difficult for farmers to store large quantities of it, and farmers face rapidly changing climates that require different types of agrochemicals.
Industrial farmers must balance the use of agrochemicals with environmental concerns and consumer push for safe, healthy foods. Luckily, agrochemical companies are working to provide products that meet the needs of farmers in a changing world, ensuring that food is available for all. By combining new technologies with advanced science, they help farmers grow larger quantities of food in smaller areas. For farmers uncertain about how to meet the rising demands of consumers, agrochemicals can offer welcome relief.