The potentials and limitations of consumer response to agricultural commodities produced according to the concepts of Integrated Pest Management in the Arab world

The potentials and limitations of consumer response to agricultural commodities produced according to the concepts of Integrated Pest Management in the Arab world

Dr. (Pof.) Abdul – Sattar Aref Ali
IPM Specialist
Department of Plant Protection/Collage of Agriculture
Al- Anbar University



The qualitative progress that occurred in the agricultural sector after the Second World War had helped to make significant progress in the quantities of agricultural production and led to self-sufficiency of various crops in many countries of the world including some of Arab countries . However, because of environmental pollution associated with the use of chemical compounds, many non-agricultural community members showed a negative impression towards modern agriculture. After the seventies of the twentieth century and with the rapid development in the applications of pest management programs along with the trend towards integrated production programs (IP), there was a significant decrease in the quantities of pesticides uses. The trend was towards moving away from wide spectrum dangerous compounds to safer and specific alternatives to be used against the target pest. However, this change did not have a significant impact on the consumer and society impression towards agriculture in many countries of the world including most Arab countries. In addition, the consumer’s assurance about the dangers of chemicals varies according to a number of factors, including country, age, general culture and the number of children in the family. The response of the Asian community is different from those of European, African, South American or North American communities. Therefore, many consumers and environmental stakeholders conducted questionnaires in various countries around the world to survey consumers’ views about the materials used on agricultural commodities. The results indicated that the consumer in most of the surveyed regions encourages products that use ecological friendly substances in agriculture, and want to buy products with such specifications. In this case, the agricultural commodity is provided with information, clarifications as a written instructions on a small label affixed to the product packaging. This approach has encouraged some institutions in a number of countries to issue certificates for such products in an effort to attract the attention of consumers who read the information before buying the goods. It is worth mentioning that information on the consumer’s perception and concerns about agricultural commodities produced in pest management systems were limited in the early 1970s, but with time the idea was accepted socially and the benefits of pest management programs were well known especially in the developed countries. This acceptance has increased in particular when environmentally safe means had been introduced into the applications of pest management programs. Therefore there was an encouragement for demand to buy products that have a label with explanatory information on the specifications of such products. Such trend was extended to reach more consumers, food stores and Agribusiness sector. However, when the concept of organic agriculture was introduced, organic products ranked first in terms of consumer demand and with a possible marketing competition between integrated management products and organic products depending on the price and quality of the product.
The challenge facingproducts of pest management systems is how to educate the consumer to understand the importance of the environmental labelused with the marketing packages of agricultural commodities for describing the quality of the product . In order to achieve such aim, the information written in the label should be clear and based on environmental principles, along with some criteria that are used for crop evaluation and certification.. Several criteria have been used to describe the products of pest management systems, some of which are input dependent, and others are output-dependent. Some other criteria depend on the measurement of farmers activities in term of completingapplications of integrated management technologies as well as farmer’s commitment to the proposed program. Some systems depend on the measurement of number and times of applications, number and kind of pesticides used and their relationship to the possible risks caused by each. While others are adopting a guide (( such as the Wisconsin Protected Harvest Guidelines (WPHG) ) that combines the above-mentioned criteria along with Guides for pesticides , their risks and residues , and a guide of inputs concerning pest management applications and technologies used by farmers.
Some of the scientific and official centers in different countries of the world started issuing instructions and principles for certification based on approved standards developed in a manner that meets the environmental and health requirements. The intended field is subjected to a continuous follow-up and the procedures of agriculture service are flexible so that any updates can be made and certain elements of the field management program are replaced as required . However, The farmer’s view toward the authority of the certification agency ( Official institution or Private sector) is varied depending on the intended country and the satisfaction of the farmer himself. Moreover, explanations on the Eco-label are also one of the important channels to educate consumers about the targeted commodity and help them overcome many of the obstacles or problems for understanding the products originated from pest management systems. Another method of educating consumers can be done through specific teaching programs that are incorporated within the curriculum of students at certain stages of study. This example is well documented in USA and some other countries where the local governments had released legislations requiring schools to implement principles of pest management programs and document their actions,so the recipient can understand the concepts and the benefits of pest management
The modern channels of awareness is the Internet which represent an outstanding mean for the dissemination of the bases and standards of certification within certain sites on this network to be accessible and within reach of the largest number of beneficiaries. Examples of such sites include the International Organization of Biological Control (IOBC) and Integrated Production (IP) And Integrated Fruit Production (IFP). The idea of this kind of information dissemination was initiated during the 1980s with the aim of introducing the products of pest management systems. It was started with some types of fruit (IFP) and expanded to include many types of deciduous fruit , citrus, varieties of tropical fruits, various field crops and vegetables, and various animal products. Standards under the IP and IOBC guidelines were used as the general framework for the approved criteria and standards for the certification guide used in each region or country. However, the Apples Certification Program released in the State of Washington in the UAS which called Responsible Choice (RC), was the first certification program involving a number of apple growers in the State. This program depended basically on the standards already used in IFP and IOBC with the introduction of paragraphs concerning environmental impact of pesticides if used. In European countries, a similar certification program has been adopted. The program called Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) was used in Britain, it is primarily focusing on the assessment of farmer himself about the environmental and economic consequences associated with residues of pesticides used or likely to be used in farm management. In the Arab countries there are successful experiences in the production and marketing of agricultural goods produced within the programs of integrated pest management and organic agriculture.
However, the response of the consumer’s to these products andtheir local marketing is still limited in most countries, as the case in many other countries in the world, especially the developing countries. This may be attributed to one or more of the following factors
1.Institutional barriers that may occur between farmer groups, educational institutions (universities) and government institutions.Governmental subsidies may be limited or not existed.
2.There are no serious precautions of the consumer’s view about other products to make them convinced that these commodities are not good or bad quality.
3. The process of displaying goods in shopping centers may not be appropriate for promoting the products of pest management because of the diversity and availability of alternative products that are usually affected by the time of year and the prices set for each product, giving the consumer a confident satisfaction to choose what suits him without considering the issue of existence or absence of the pest management mark
4. The use of IPM and other terms written on the label was faced by a number of questions related to consumer acceptance of integrated management products, especially in the early stages some of consumers believe that these names are strange or complex and difficult to understand , and they believe that the concept of integrated management is inconsistent with their preferences to get their needs of various commodities at logical prices as soon as he can.
Therefore, the success and distribution of pest management applications and marketing products in terms of input and output depends on popular understanding which can be seen in two approaches, the first is focusing on educating and training farmers on the use of pest management technologies as well as their involvement in activities and perhaps field research to deepen their conviction about the feasibility of implementing pest management technologies and their impact on increasing production, reducing health and environmental risks and raising awareness about the risks of pesticide residues in agricultural products. One of the most effective and recognized means of education was Farmers Field Schools (FFS). The second approach is concerning with consumers whom must have sufficient understanding about the risks and residues of pesticides in agricultural products and the benefits achieved by pest management applications and their impact on the quantity and quality of production. Activities related to consumer awareness can be made through the media or through educational seminars and through associations concerned with environmental protection in order to clarify the dangers of pesticides to public health and to the environment. However, these efforts may not be enough by themselves to enhance consumer’ssatisfaction. Therefore, there is a continuous need to strengthen cooperation between theintendedauthorities in each country with the relevant international organizations and institutions in attempt for disseminating the concept of pest management and its applications, as well as updating with the most recent information for the benefit of sustainability of agriculture production and for the societies in the world over the coming years.