Crop Protection x Design Thinking
A hands-on work session organized by Agri Meets Design to connect stakeholders and designers to work together on an answer for complex agricultural issues. The topic of our team was ‘crop protection’. For farmer Stefan van Hugten it is difficult to reach and explain to consumers and city dwellers what crop protection is. You might wonder why this is important.
First of all, this topic easily gets a negative undertone as it is usually associated with pesticides, but crop protection is much more than that. Ploughing the soil for example is also a form of crop protection. Secondly, even when you’re talking about pesticides you should never forget that it is only in the farmers interest to use a less as possible. On one side because it is expensive, on the other side because they are taught about the risks and effects of these pesticides. They even have a license that gives them the jurisdiction to use these chemicals. Whereas consumers are able to buy some type of pesticides, without any license, that are harmful if not used and taken care off in the right way. And third, the Netherlands has very strict rules regarding safety and the amount of residue allowed on crops, often better than other countries within and outside Europe. But with the idea of consumers that they want even ‘less’ or no pesticides at all, farmers are put up against the wall because they cannot use less pesticides and at the same time keep the quality and quantity the same.
As a result, a farmer might need to close his business and supermarkets will import the same crops from other countries with less strict rules about pesticides. This might sound strange, but the rules regarding pesticides and crop protection of the Netherlands only apply for crops grown in the Netherlands itself, it does not apply for imported crops. In the end it is possible that if we, as consumers, keep demanding less pesticides we unwillingly end up with more pesticide’s residues on the crops in the supermarket.
For Dutch readers, click here to read an article of the Dutch newspaper Trouw about it.