A multi-disciplinary cooperation – A way to transform the ecological health of agriculture in Yuanmou County

Located in a lowland area, the arid conditions of Yuanmou County in Yunnan contribute to it being a natural greenhouse. Intensive forms of vegetable farming have, to a very large extent, raised the income of farmers in Yuanmou. At the same time however, intensive forms of vegetable farming are also taking a toll on both the society and the environment. Widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has contaminated the local natural environment. It has resulted in the death of wild species of animals, plants and aquatic life. This has led to diseases and other health hazards for human beings. Because of this, PCD’s Yunnan Office and Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) launched a project called “Means to transform the ecological health of agriculture in Yuanmou County” in an effort to promote knowledge of ecological health in the county. The project focuses on how land-use and changes in livelihood are affecting the ecology of the area and health of human beings. KIB has established a multi-disciplinary project team consisting of workers in botany, epidemiology, anthropology and organic farming research, at county and provincial levels. The project team has set up a platform for cooperation and sharing of information.

To guarantee participation of workers from the various disciplines, the project team will study literature on ecological health. By integrating literature study with surveys and research at county, township and village levels, various measures will be proposed. Targeting pesticide hazards, community based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) will be used as a means of community intervention. There are two parts to this project, of which the first will take place in classrooms and trainers/teachers will respond to questions raised by students. The second part takes place in the field where students will learn to identify pests and discuss ways to prevent and treat plant disease. With the facilitation of the project team, villagers will learn common diseases and pests found in vegetables and gain knowledge of prevention and treatment. In this way, they will also gain new knowledge of pesticide hazards.

Shen Ding-fang (Assistant Officer, Yunnan Ecological Health Programme, PCD)