Paraquat boosts profitability for Filipino Farmers

Filipino potato growers using paraquat can double their income.Paraquat is an important tool in the armoury of Filipino farmers in their battle against weeds. Farming is one of the most important industries in the Philippines. More than one third of the country’s labor-force works on farms. Most farms are small, averaging only 2 ha in size, and farmers need to grow a variety of higher value crops in order to be profitable. This is where the agronomic and environmental properties of paraquat and its versatility are invaluable. A recent survey of Filipino farmers and their use of paraquat has emphasised its economic benefits.

Benefits of paraquat

In the Philippines paraquat is used in crops ranging from staples like rice and maize, to a huge range of vegetables, and to plantation crops like sugar cane. Paraquat can be used to control a broad spectrum of weeds before planting and later between the rows of growing crops. The soil properties of paraquat mean that it cannot damage the crop via the roots or adversely affect the establishment of following crops. This is because paraquat is deactivated immediately on contact with soil. Similarly, seeds are not prevented from germinating, so new weed cover can be allowed to grow and protect the soil from erosion before being removed, when necessary, by another spray round. Paraquat does not leach

Description

The natural process by which water soluble substances are carried downward through the soil into groundwater.
and kills only weed shoots, so roots remain to anchor the soil and resist erosion.
You can read more about the benefits of paraquat here.

Survey of paraquat use

Recently, researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños have surveyed farmers in several regions of the Philippines, growing a range of different crops, to determine the economic benefits of using paraquat. Data were collected from nearly 500 farmers who either had used or had not used paraquat for weed control.

Reasons to use paraquat

The survey revealed that participating farmers who use paraquat chose to do so for two main reasons:
  • Paraquat saves on the cost of labor
  • Paraquat kills weeds fast
After company technical support staff, the group of people most influential in persuading farmers to use paraquat was farmers themselves.
Data were collected on the costs of inputs and labor involved in growing several crops, and on their ultimate financial returns. Of the various costs, paraquat users consistently made large savings in two particulars areas:
  • Land preparation
  • Weeding
Figure 1. Cost of land preparation.The cost of preparing fields for sowing crops was much lower when paraquat was used. Typically, the cost was halved (Figure 1). Reductions in the cost of weed control ranged from 25% in sugar cane to 82% in Chinese cabbage (Figure 2). Using paraquat means that there is no need to plow fields before planting. Plowing is one of the most labor- and energy-demanding operations in growing crops. Similarly, without paraquat, weeding is time-consuming and costly, requiring hand-pulling or hoeing and cutting of weeds. Using paraquat saves on the resources needed for these operations, enabling them to be diverted to other possibly more profitable activities, or education where children are employed in the fields. Figure 2.  Cost of weeding.Not only were these costs reduced, but the sales value of harvested produce was greater for most crops, including a doubling for potatoes. Interestingly, potato growers who used paraquat spent considerably more on inputs such as fertilizer, but these were substantially off-set by the lower cost of land preparation.

Conclusions

Farmers stated that they use paraquat because it saves on labor requirements and kills weeds quickly. These reasons were supported by the survey economic data which pointed to the cost savings to be made in land preparation and weed control. Overall, the results of the survey revealed the substantial extra profits to be made from growing various crops when farmers use paraquat.

Notes

The brand name of the leading paraquat product is Gramoxone.