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Apply agrochemicals with caution — Dr Clottey

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi
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•Dr Victor Attuquaye Clottey (2nd left) with other participants interacting with crop farmers at the Aviation farm
•Dr Victor Attuquaye Clottey (2nd left) with other participants interacting with crop farmers at the Aviation farm

The West Africa Regional Coordinator of the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), Dr Victor Attuquaye Clottey, has advised farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to follow precautionary measures on  the use of every agrochemical.

He expressed concern about the misapplication of agrochemicals by farmers, particularly those involved in crop production, which endangered their lives and that of consumers.

Speaking to crop farmers at the Aviation farm site in the Adentan municipality in Accra during a two-day stakeholder dialogue, he indicated that the use of chemicals had come to stay and so it was important to use them appropriately to avoid adverse effects in the long-term.

He stated that every chemical was poisonous depending on how it was regulated, used, manufactured, stored, transported and applied.

“Our focus will be on regulation of pesticides. We expect that as decision makers on what pesticides should be allowed entry, purchased, distributed and used, we should be knowledgeable on some principal criteria used by international conventions to regulate them,” he said.

Field trip
The field visit was part of the dialogue instituted under the Ghana National Learning Alliance (GH-NLA), under the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa (SAIRLA) programme, intended to enhance the wellbeing of smallholder agricultural value-chain actors, particularly women and the youth.

The dialogue on the “Excessive use and Misuse of Chemicals in Crop Production,” saw the need to do a lot of learning around the use of chemicals in crop production, looking at their effect on the human being and the environment.

Following interactions with the farmers, it came out that some of the farmers misapply chemicals, which was evident by some unusual features on the crop.

The effects of misapplication include headaches and skin irritation.

Whereas some farmers said they relied on input dealers to guide them to use the chemicals, others said they fell on their groups, while another set of farmers depended on their own calculations. 

Challenges
Adhering to ‘dos and don’ts’ was identified as a major challenge for the crop farmers. Some farmers knew they were required to bury used chemical containers but they did not do so.

Others refuse to wear protective clothing and accessories during the usage of chemicals/spraying while such items are also left unwashed after use. 
 
Remedy
Some participants called for the need to increase extension service capacity to deal with the challenges and that there should be practical demonstration to the farmers during visits by agricultural extension officers. 

Others urged stakeholders, such as input dealers, to also help to deal with the issue of misapplication of chemicals because the government’s extension personnel alone could not change attitudes.