Andalucia sets up government-funded IPM organisation

The UK could learn from Europe's largest fruit and vegetable growing region, which is set to lead the way in reducing pesticide residues with the launch of Hortyfruta, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to creating integrated pest management (IPM) systems for growers.

Hortyfruta will represent the interests of all farmers - some 20,000 producers - in the region of Andalucia, Spain, and aims to introduce predatory insects into all protected growing environments to control pests and cut pesticide use so growers can offer many of the benefits of organic farming to the mainstream consumer.

Hortyfruta general manger Maria Jose Pardo hopes the organisation will act as a best-practice model for adoption elsewhere, including the UK. She said: "We hope to highlight biological controls that UK growers will be interested in and inspired by. IPM could be another farming method for UK growers to consider.

"Hortyfruta is an example of best practice in growers working together to make sustainable farming a reality, and in raising awareness to government, consumers and retailers alike of the health and environmental benefits of IPM."

She said it was essential that governments and local authorities get behind any such scheme. The Andalucian regional government is ploughing EUR300m (£229.7m) into the initiative, including financial incentives to encourage the rapid uptake of IPM in the region.

Andalucian regional government minister Juan Deus said: "The Andalucian government has given funding to farmers for the acquisition of predatory insects. It will maintain this level of funding for the next four years ... because finding more sustainable farming methods is of real importance to us."

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