Potato Farmers in Ecuador Depend on Fungicides

Potato leaves with late blight; Fungicide treatment on right

Potato leaves with late blight (L); Fungicide treatment (R)

Carchi is the most important potato-growing zone in Ecuador. Smallholder households dominate production and they sell the vast majority of output. The biggest biological constraint to potato production in Ecuador is the disease late blight caused by the fungus p. infestans. The fungus can infect all the potato plants in a field in three days and losses can be as high as 100%. A survey of smallholder potato farmers in Carchi showed how dependent they are on fungicides.

“Even though potatoes have been one of the main crops in the Andes for thousands of years, under present production and market conditions the farmers in Carchi cannot produce potatoes without pesticides, particularly fungicides against late blight (caused by Phytophthora infestans) and insecticides to control the Andean weevil (Premnotrypes vorax). Every one of the farmers in the area covered by our project in the province of Carchi used fungicides. On average, they treated 6.7 times with 2.6 products at each treatment. They generally applied fungicides up to eight times during each production cycle, making fungicides the most frequently applied type of product.”

Authors: Sherwood, S. G., et al.
Affiliation: Integrated Pest Management Project, International Potato Center (CIP),
Title: Reduction of risks associated with fungicides: technically easy, socially complex.
Source: 2002. Reduction of Risks Associated with Fungicides: Technically Easy, Socially Complex. pp. 93–109. In: Fernández-Northcote E.N. (ed), Memorias del taller internacional Complementando la resistencia al tizón (Phytophthora infestans) en los Andes, Febrero 13–16, 2001, Cochabamba, Bolivia, GILB, Taller Latinoamérica 1. Centro Internacional de la Papa, Lima, Perú. Available online: http://www.share4dev.info/kb/output_view.asp?outputID=3480

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