Using paraquat for weed control means that labor requirements are greatly reduced and productivity and profitability can be increased. This means on the one hand that people who would otherwise be compelled to find work weeding fields are free to find other opportunities to make best use of their time, and on the other hand, farmers who find difficulty in recruiting labor for handweeding can grow better crops.
Three-quarters of crop losses in developing countries are due to weeds. FAO experts emphasise that total economic losses will be much greater in poorer countries because of the time spent manual weeding. "With only manual labor available, African smallholders need to weed every day and that means a family physically can't handle more than 1 to 1.5 hectares."
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Stimulates the economy
In developing countries, increased agricultural productivity creates more income, which in turn propagates throughout the economy, creating secondary benefits to the social structure.
In Kenya, a farmer with 15 acres pays around $600 for laborers to hand weed his fields for one growing season. Using paraquat for weed control saves at least $200 and the farm can be weed-free in 4 days compared to 10 days for hand weeding.
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Paraquat’s economic benefits to farmers and national trade balances have been quantified in a paper published in the journal Outlooks on Pest Management.
Results collated from farm-scale field experiments and surveys in China, the Philippines and Vietnam present strong evidence that using paraquat contributes to significant increases in the annual incomes of smallholder farmers worth up to $1000/ha each year.
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Replaces handweeding - improves health and education
Handweeding one hectare of maize can take around 250 hours of work. Often it is women and children who spend time away from their families stooping for many hours a day pulling weeds. This can lead to permanent back deformities. The same field can be sprayed in as little as two hours.
A case study in Eastern Kenya revealed that farmers spend a lot of money hiring labor for weeding. Sometimes children have to miss school just for weeding. Women, in addition to their chores of fetching water from 20 kilometers away, have to participate in this back-breaking exercise.
“Farmers can save a lot on medical expenses arising from repetitive motions and work postures that lead to musculoskeletal diseases … [introducing] herbicides such as paraquat are some of the solutions to saving the continent from time wastage and back-ache.”
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