UNDP pilot steps up a level to nationwide coverage

27 May 2013

The Ministry of Agriculture launched today in Beijing a new national plan to promote an eco-friendly alternative technology to replace the agricultural use of the harmful pesticide Dicofol across China by 2015, based on a pilot project run by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Since 2009, UNDP has been working with partners to encourage Chinese farmers to stop using Dicofol – a DDT-based harmful pesticide – and use safer alternative methods, known as the Integrated Pest Management (IPM), that employ green techniques to ward off agricultural pests.

“This inspiring project is an outstanding example of work for sustainable development, as it contributes to China’s efforts in both poverty reduction and environmental protection,” said Christophe Bahuet, UNDP China Country Director at the launch event.

Farmers who took part in the pilot found that their crops not only could survive without being coated in Dicofol, but actually flourished. Before, apples from one pilot site in Luochuan County, Shaanxi Province were selling for 2 RMB per kilogramme; now they fetch three times that amount. 100,000 farmers at Luochan and two other pilot sites in Hubei and Shandong have already been trained to use environmentally-friendly IPM techniques such as planting grass at the base of trees to provide alternative habitats for pests. Many of these farmers have now become trainers, passing on their knowledge to others. This was one of the project’s key features – once the knowledge has been imparted to a community, it spreads itself.

In addition to boosting incomes, the project has also strived to shut down Dicofol production lines which led to DDT production in China being cut by 2,800 tons, DDT-related emissions falling by 350 tons and DDT-contaminated waste reduced by 1,350 tons. As well as having a positive impact on the environment, these reductions also mean that China was able to meet its obligations under the Stockholm Convention, which governs the use of DDT and sets strict health and safety standards globally.

Based on the successful experiences collected from the three piloting sites, the National Promotion Plan launched today maps out concrete steps to roll out IPM techniques in China’s main plantation areas of oranges, apples and cotton across the country through a series of activities including training, demonstration, communication and incentive-making. This 3-year nationwide plan aims to completely phase out Dicofol use in China by end of 2015.

 “In launching this new plan, the whole of China is planting a seed for a chemical free future,” said Bahuet.

This project is one of many initiatives being implemented in China by UNDP and its partners, as part of a cohesive programme of assistance to the government of China in meeting its targets under various international environmental conventions for chemical control and the Millennium Development Goal to ensure humanity’s environmental sustainability.