The West Africa Regional Coordinator of the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), Dr Victor Attuquaye Clottey, has recommended that Ghana adheres to conventions on the use of chemicals for crop production in the long term.
He cited the Montreal, Stockholm and Rotterdam Protocols, and the Global Harmonised Systems (GHS) of labelling chemicals, which set out the details of the principles for internationally effective chemical safety for use, particularly in agriculture.
In an interview during a two-day stakeholder dialogue in Accra on “Excessive use and Misuse of Chemicals in Crop Production, ” he said “it is necessary to stick to the protocols which all tell the hazards that farmers and consumers carry so it can be taken into consideration in relation to what is allowed into the country, how to use it well to solve the problem of excessive use and misuse of chemicals.”
The CABI is engaged in science-based work to support agricultural production and trade, and correspondingly increase economic opportunities in Africa and beyond.
Chemicals in crop production
Dr Clottey said, “ the issue of excessive use and misuse of chemicals was serious because we lack the knowledge of the chronic effect of most of the active ingredients in these chemicals; the ones that kill the insects or controls the fungi.
“We don’t have information about its long-term effect on us. Most of the information we have is the immediate, but the one you are inhaling now and what it will do to you in your old age and your unborn child, those ones we are not aware off,” he indicated.
Agricultural experts have often expressed concern about the misuse of agrochemicals by farmers which endanger their lives and that of consumers.
They say that the over application of agrochemicals and the wrong timing in their usage by farmers contaminates foods and leaves residues of these chemicals in foods which are in the end consumed by the public.
A lot of farmers flout the strict requirement for applying chemicals to their crops which is at least, two weeks before harvesting.
Some studies have revealed a lot of chemicals in food crops in Ghana and often attributed to the fact that a lot of these farmers are illiterates and do not understand safety instructions.
According to Dr Clottey, there was a danger because the misuse of chemicals was on all crops, but the good thing was regulation.
“Every chemical is poisonous but the way to use it to evade these hazards are indicated on it. so, it’s a question of people understanding that if I use it this way, I will evade hazards that it contains. That is what we have dwelt on for people to be aware,” he said.
Agric experts say the production context is transforming with the improvement of science such that agro chemicals are not the simple chemicals that were known.
‘Therefore, agric extension officers need to understand to be able to explain to our farmers and other relevant stakeholders in the agric sector.
“With the new conventions and hazards, they need to know and understand to share with the farmers. Thus, the dialogue so they can relay it to the ultimate,” he stated.
It was under the auspices of the Ghana National Learning Alliance (GH-NLA) under the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa (SAIRLA) programme, that seeks to enhance the well-being of smallholder agricultural value chain actors, particularly women and youth.
The Facilitator of GH-NLA, Dr Naaminong Karbo, said the GH-NLA aimed to effectively engage and foster learning among policy makers, private investors, civil society groups and other critical stakeholders on critical issues relating to SAI systems and processes based on concrete research evidence.
He said the invasion of the fall armyworm (FAW) last year had necessitated the dialogue on the use of chemicals.
“How far are we going, what are the outcomes that we are getting. Through these meetings we will be influencing and affecting others so that our agric will give us the sort of productivity we need as a country in a healthy environment,” he said. — GB