Effects of the use of pesticides on the health of farmers in Molo District Kenya
Taiti, Duncan M
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Small-scale farmers in Molo District grow the following vegetables and flowers, tomatoes, cabbages, peas and onions and outdoor cut flowers. Farmers use many types of pesticides in order to control pests and diseases which attack these crops. The types of pesticides used by the farmers in the area of study include insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. The Pesticide-related health symptoms associated with pesticides use in human beings include skin problems, stomach disorders, neurological system disturbances (dizziness, headache) or even bereavement. Pesticides poisoning including, stomach problems, chest problems, allergic conditions on the skin and the respiratory system, low or high cholinesterase levels to the persons involved with these chemicals is a reflections of a failure in the storage and use of pesticides at the individual, group or community level. Several studies have reported that farmers spend money on illness due to pesticides use. This research evaluated plant protection products used in the area of study and their effects on the health of farmers in relation to storage, duration of use, the use of personal protective equipment and frequency of application of the plant protection products. A qualitative research design was used in the study through determination of a representative sample of an the farmers in Molo district. A simple random sampling technique was employed to Molo District farmers to generate the required sample. Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The statistical analysis included measures of relationships between the independent and dependent variables. Partial correlation analysis was used in order to measure separately the relationship between the dependent variable, on the health of the farmers and the relevant independent variable. The main findings of the study found that the nature and quality of pesticide used by farmers in the study area has an effect on their health. Poor production methods characterized by crop damage, clinical problems among operators and their families, livestock pastures contamination, soil and water pollution and low quality products, is an indicator of poor agrochemicaIs management practices in crop protection and integration. Some types of pesticides, depending on the contents of active ingredients affect the users more than others. The degree of harm caused by the pesticide to man depends on the group or category in which it belongs. Use of protective gear significantly reduces chances of contamination while the duration and frequency of exposure consequently affects the health of the applicators. The study found that training on safe use has a positive effect on the health of the fanners. The findings were presented using Tables and the data was used to draw conclusions and recommendations on pesticides use by farmers. In conclusion pesticides were found to affect the health of the users and therefore Training on safe and effective use of pesticides can significantly reduce the likelihood of the farmers' misuse of pesticides. Training increases the level of farmers' information when using the pesticide chemicals therefore reducing the chances of harming oneself. The study recommends that there is need for the government and stake holders in environmental management, farmers and pesticide manufactures to develop a policy tool in pest management by use of pesticides by small-scale vegetable farmers and flowers producers in Kenya which would contribute to the reformation of pesticide policy for safe and effective use of pesticides. Farmers should be educated on the correct and safe use of pesticides to enable them control and prevent chemically caused ailments and deaths. This could be done through government efforts of establishing and strengthening extension services in the rural areas of Molo District Government extension officers who are well motivated through reward/salaries can be of vital help in promoting not only increased pesticide awareness and adoption of modem technology of farming, but also good measures and precautions on handing of pesticides to reduce incidences of harmful effects of use of pesticides among farmers in Molo District. The areas suggested for further studies include, establishment on how the productivity of the traditional crops can be improved, ensuring that their inherent characteristics of resistance to pest and diseases are maintained, and determination of the impact of agricultural officers in training farmers on use of pesticides to promote crop productivity by farmers.