Survey evaluates 2030 chemical-free farming initiative in Andhra Pradesh, India

For the first time, researchers evaluated if a statewide initiative that pushes all farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India to farm chemical-free by 2030 is working. The study, published in The Lancet, found those actively making the switch were less likely to use pesticides, had lower production costs, and were younger, women, and recipients of higher education, overseeing smaller operations.  The idea for making the switch: protect human health and biodiversity of the region and increase farmer livelihoods to curb urban migration out of the area. The government mandate is dubbed the Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming (APCNF) Program, which also supplies training on how to farm without agrochemicals. 

To assess the program’s progress, the researchers surveyed roughly 900 farmers on how they managed their crops.  Farmers who used fewer pesticides were also more likely to meet regularly with agricultural extension workers, highlighting the value of extension in changing habits around pesticide use especially when practical solutions exist. 

Despite finding that investment in extension reduces pesticide use and moves policies like the APCNF Program forward, the researchers explain more investment in extension and other efforts are needed to make progress on the 2030 initiative for the region and even suggest bans on pesticides from retailers could further momentum.  

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