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Pesticides use and exposure among yam farmers in the Nanumba traditional area of Ghana

Wumbei, Abukari, Houbraken, Michael, Spanoghe, Pieter
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.5 pp. 307
cotton, environmental health, farmers, fruits, glyphosate, health effects assessments, humans, labor, questionnaires, risk, safety equipment, yams, Ghana
Over the years, pesticides have become a dominant feature of Ghana’s agriculture. In the past, pesticides usage was restricted to the cocoa, cotton, vegetables, and fruits sectors. Today, there is a widespread use of pesticides in the cultivation of yam. Since the introduction of pesticides into yam production, farmers have expressed satisfaction about the relief it has brought them with regard to labor and productivity. However, there has been public concern about the human and environmental health impacts of pesticides. In this study, 100 farmers were interviewed through a structured questionnaire to determine their knowledge, awareness, and use practices of pesticides and to determine their level of exposure. The study revealed that the common pesticides currently being used for yam production are herbicides. Although the farmers are aware of the risks associated with the use of pesticides, they use more than the recommended doses and do not pay attention to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) thereby predisposing themselves to the potential health effects of pesticides. A significant percentage (20 to 40%) of the farmers reported to have never used these PPEs and over 44% of them use glyphosate above the recommended dose (between 1.5 and 2 L/ha). This resulted in an average farmer exposure to glyphosate of 4.2 mg/kgBW/day, well above the acute reference dose (ARfD) of 0.5 mg/kgBW/day. The government should develop and implement programs to train pesticides dealers, educate farmers, enforce the laws on pesticides, and support farmers to uphold protective measures.