Malaria and Agriculture

Source: 2003 Anna Temu/IFPRI
Farmer washing roots in Northern Tanzania

Agriculture has increased the intensity of malaria around the world, because it can support the breeding of mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. Urbanization is increasing in most developing countries as a result of population growth. To feed the increasing population, farmers are cultivating undeveloped land around cities to produce and supply vegetables to the city dwellers. Water is vital for the success of the venture as cultivation is done year round. However, water is scarce in most of the cities and so it becomes a constraining factor. Farmers have learned to adapt to the constraints by storing water in dugouts and bunds. These water storage receptacles provide favorable aquatic habitats for mosquitoes. Additionally, farmers are implementing irrigation methods, such as furrow irrigation, that increase the potential for mosquito breeding. People who live around these urban agricultural field gardens easily contract malaria throughout the year if they are not properly protected by bed nets or pesticides or other control measures. It is important for policy makers to be cognizant of the relationship between agriculture and health when devising agricultural development and disease control policies and strategies.

For more information see The Linkages Between Agriculture and Malaria: Issues for Policy, Research, and Capacity Strengthening