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Ethiopia’s annual pesticide purchases amount to more than 3,000 metric tons, valued at nearly US$ 20 million. Insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides and others constitute roughly 71, 25, 3, and 1 percent, respectively. The state sector is
the main user of pesticides in this country. The bulk of pesticide use in the smallholder private sector is accounted for by insecticides used against the African army worm (Spodoptera exempta) and locusts (Schistocerca gregaria and Locusta migratoria) averaging about 124 and 79 metric tons, respectively, during outbreak or plague years. The lack of pesticide regulation until recent years has resulted in the importation and use of some pesticides that are either banned, restricted or not registered in other countries. Also, it was not uncommon in Ethiopia for pesticides that have not been tested at all to be recommended against certain pests. Research on
pesticide use in Ethiopia focused on screening of conventional synthetic pesticides; little or no information is available on non-conventional pesticides such as biopesticides and growth regulators. No work has ever been done on environmental impacts of pesticides. Economic and environmental concerns associated with pesticides make it unsustainable for pesticide use in smallholder agriculture and therefore pest management in food crop production systems in Ethiopia will rely on an IPM approach that will maximize cultural practices, natural biological control, and use of host plant resistance. It is suggested that future pesticide research should focus on the development of alternatives to conventional pesticides (such as botanicals and microbial control agents). Conventional pesticides may constitute an important component of IPM in commercial agriculture and high value crops; research here should give attention to pesticides that are compatible with IPM programs.
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