SE Asia

Paraquat has an important role to play in vegetable cropping because its unique characteristics are particularly suited to the challenges posed by controlling weeds in these diverse crops. Growing vegetables also helps with growing other crops in a sustainable way. Legume vegetables have bacteria associated with their roots which convert nitrogen from the air into forms which can be used by plants as nutrients and these remain in the soil to fertilize following crops. A vegetable break crop, such as peas or potatoes, prevents the build-up of pests and diseases in cereal rotations and provides an opportunity to control weeds by alternative approaches.
Using paraquat for weed control helps to address many of the challenges to vegetable production including soil erosion, leaching of agrochemicals, early harvests for best prices. Paraquat is used to prepare the land for sowing or transplanting and is safe to use for inter-row weed control in growing crops by careful application with knapsack sprayers or from tractor mounted sprayers with shielded spray nozzles. Unlike systemic herbicides which are too dangerous to use, even if small amounts of paraquat land on crop plants they cannot move within the plant to cause damage.
Vegetables fact file 70 million hectares grown worldwide
70% grown in Asia
5 portions a day recommended for health
Maize, often called corn, along with wheat and rice is one of the world’s top crops. Maize provides basic staple foods for much of the world’s population. All around the world maize grain is a basic livestock feed, and the crop can be cut while still green to make silage as a winter feed. Also, increasing amounts of maize in the US are being used to make bioethanol fuel.
Maize, perhaps more than any other crop, reaches both high and low extremes of sophistication, mechanisation and technology in crop production. But, all farmers need to maximise the yield and quality of their produce, while saving the costs, time and labor needed to grow it.
Broad-spectrum herbicides, led by the introduction of paraquat in the 1960’s, have allowed the adoption and growth of soil cultivation systems which do not rely on controlling weeds by burial from ploughing.
Global production of palm oil has now overtaken soybean oil to be the world’s leading vegetable oil. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a multi-stakeholder not-for-profit association designed to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil. RSPO has published a set of Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production. These include that growers: Minimise erosion
Ensure the quality of surface and groundwater
Use integrated pest management (IPM) techniques to protect crops from weeds, pests and diseases
Use agrochemicals in a way that does not damage health or the environment
Soil erosion on sloping ground is especially serious. Up to 14 tonnes per hecatre of soil have been estimated as being removed every year. Plantations affected cannot be re-planted and new land must be found. “Paraquat has always given good value, with fast and effective weed control, especially of difficult weeds like ferns, woody shrubs and volunteer oil palm seedlings, even in the rainy season. These days, it is important to use paraquat to prevent weed succession problems caused by glyphosate.”
- Professor Gembira Sinuraya, North Sumatra University, Indonesia
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ranks bananas as the world’s fourth most important crop after the major cereals. Bananas are rich in carbohydrate, potassium and vitamins, including A, C, and B6. They are a good source of dietary fibre and are fat-free.
Bananas are not only eaten raw. They may be boiled, steamed, mashed and rolled into balls as ‘foutou’, grilled, roasted or fried; a flour for cakes and biscuits is made in the tropics; and in the Philippines, banana ketchup is popular. A beer made from the juice of ripe fruit is popular in central Africa. Animals, especially pigs, are reared on surplus fruit.
Banana fact file 400 million people eat bananas as a staple food
130 countries grow bananas, led by India
55% increase in production since 2000
6 billion dollars worth of annual trade
50 tonnes/ha grown in Costa Rica, 2x world average
Oil palm is the world’s leading vegetable oil crop. Palm oil has many food and industrial uses. As a foodstuff, it is believed to have several important benefits, particularly in lowering the risk of heart disease. As a very high yielding crop it has become a major feedstock for biodiesel production.
Some say that the rise of oil palm has come at a price. They claim that expanding areas of production are bound to result in the further destruction of tropical rainforests, removing an invaluable carbon sink, destroying habitats, so reducing biodiversity, and causing severe soil erosion on sloping terrain. However, The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has been established to ensure that these fears are unfounded. Protecting oil palm from weeds, pests and diseases, which flourish if unchecked in tropical climates, is key to productivity. Integrated pest management (IPM) approaches are widely used and encouraged to ensure that crops are protected in a sustainable way.
Paraquat is an essential tool in oil palm plantations
“In trials, we found that paraquat still gave an amazing performance even when it rained soon after spraying. It works especially well when mixed with sulfonylureas to give longer control of ferns. There is no danger to aquatic organisms or any water pollution because it can not leach from soil.”
Many tennis players know that bananas are a fast-food which is actually good for you. They eat them between sets for a quick but sustained burst of energy. Bananas are rich in carbohydrate, potassium and vitamins, including A, C, and B6. They are a good source of dietary fibre and are fat-free.
But, bananas are far more than that: 98% of bananas are grown on small farms in developing countries and are a staple food of more than 400 million people living in the tropics.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ranks bananas as the world’s fourth most important crop after the major cereals.
In India bananas are called "kalpatharu", meaning "herb with all imaginable uses". Bananas are a surprisingly versatile crop, not just as a food, but with many other uses, including medicinal applications and a source fibre from the leaves. Banana plants are also grown to support the production of many other crops which need shade including cocoa, coffee, peppers and nutmeg.
Articles in this section are about specific examples of how paraquat is being used and new uses explored in sustainable cropping systems.
The case studies show how farmers, their families and their land can benefit by farming with paraquat; and how this enables them to grow better crops.
Paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, marketed globally under the brand name Gramoxone by Syngenta. A list of other brand names under which paraquat is sold can be found here.
Paraquat is used in nearly 90 countries either to prepare the land for planting or for controlling weeds in more than 100 crops, including major food crops: corn, rice, soya, wheat, potatoes; major fruits: apples, oranges, bananas; beverages: coffee, tea, cocoa; and processed crops: cotton, oil palm, sugarcane, and rubber.
In this section you can find information about crops for which paraquat is an essential production tool and a selection of case studies illustrating the benefits from using paraquat in some very different cropping systems.
The crop reviews describe the crop, where it is grown and what it is used for; crop production methods and weed, insect pest and disease problems; and the key benefits from using paraquat. They are summarised here and more extensive articles can be found in the Knowledge Bank.
The case studies demonstrate why paraquat is an essential tool for use in sustainable agriculture, and one which many farmers around the world rely upon for their livelihoods and to support their families.
Paraquat was granted a full re-registration in the Philippines on 22 October 2008 for a further three years.  This followed a full and detailed scientific review by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority of the Philippines.  This is excellent news for the country’s 90 million inhabitants for whom agriculture is a very significant part of their economy. 
For 12 million farmers, it means they can continue to use paraquat as an essential tool in their efforts to grow food, make an important contribution to the country’s export earnings from crops like coconuts, bananas and pineapples, and protect the soil from erosion.
Paraquat can be used on a vast range of crops grown in the Philippines from staples like rice, to indigenous vegetables, to plantation crops. It means more work can be done more quickly and more productively, without damaging crops, and while caring for the soil.
Paraquat has enabled the development of two new production technologies for vegetable farmers in the Philippines: Bilis Saka and Bilis Linis. These techniques are only possible because paraquat’s key characteristics as a herbicide are that it controls almost all weeds, but only by contact action, and is inactivated as soon as it reaches the soil. Bilis Saka is used to establish crops in a weed-free soil without the need to plough and Bilis Linis allows weeds growing between the rows of plants to be controlled without fear of damaging the crop.
Value in vegetables
Vegetables are a valuable group of literally hundreds of different crops in the Philippines. Although, with around 630,000 hectares harvested annually they may seem dwarfed by more than 6 million hectares of rice and 2.5 million hectares of corn, vegetables are crucial to alleviating poverty and fighting malnutrition. The World Vegetable Center has stated that: “vegetables are vital for healthier diets and help generate stronger economies … especially in developing countries.”