In the 21st century, agriculture remains fundamental to economic growth, poverty alleviation, and improvement to rural livelihoods and environmental sustainability (World Bank 2007). Three-quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas, particularly in Asia and Africa (Ravallion, Chen, and Sangraula 2007), and depend on agriculture as their primary source of income.
Health issues are increasingly affecting household decisionmaking, farm labor, and agricultural productivity in developing countries. Similarly, certain agricultural development projects and practices that aid productivity (for example, the use of pesticides and the water harvesting techniques, storage structures, and dams involved with irrigation) can actually exacerbate the incidence of diseases in workers by increasing interactions with disease vectors and parasites.
While most people can readily grasp malaria’s impact on smallholder productivity and development, the impact of agriculture development on the disease is less understood.