Assessment of Occupational Safety Concerns in Pesticide Use Among Small-Scale Farmers in Sagana, Central Highlands, Kenya
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Small-scale farmers in Sagana area of central Kenya constitute a population at risk due to intensive use of pesticides in the production of mainly horticultural crops for commercial purposes. This chapter examines the main causes of pesticide hazards and risks, barriers to taking risk reduction measures and cues to adopting safety behaviour when dealing with pesticides. Data were collected by the use of interviews conducted in 2006/2007 from a sample of 140 farmers. Perception scales were developed from interview items and were ranked along a modified three-point Likert scale. Analysis of the items and scales showed that farmers had fairly high levels of perceived risk, perceived severity and perceived benefits of taking action to mitigate pesticide hazards. Results from this study showed that farmers are still susceptible to pesticide-related dangers notably due to resignation to fate, perceived high cost of purchasing protective gear and lack of adequate training in the use and handling of pesticides. Further, contrary to conventional thinking, farmers’ education had limited positive effect to safety behaviour when handling pesticides. The challenge to policy and practice towards safe use of pesticides lies in issues of farmers’ economic survivability, perceptions and attitudes, along the whole chain from pesticide procurement, storage, farm application and disposal.