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October 19, 2008

Farmer health problems in Ghana blamed on agrochemical use

Reports from Ghana indicate that from 2005 the Fanteakwa District Hospital at Begoro has been recording conditions such as diarrhoea and skin irritations from tomato growers in the area who used agrochemicals extensively.

Mr Frederick Kwame Ofosu, Fanteakwa District Director of Health Services said in 2005, of the 1,059 cases of diarrhoea reported, 420 were from vegetable growers who used agrochemicals.

He said skin infections were the worst reported cases among vegetable producing farmers who applied agrochemicals on their farms.

“More than 314 cases of skin infections of the 512 cases were from vegetable farmers with long exposure to agrochemicals.”

Mr Ofosu therefore recommended the sensitization of farmers on regular basis on the use of agrochemicals and also for them to wear protective clothing such as masks, gloves and long sleeves to reduce exposure to those chemicals. “There should be regular medical check ups to avert chronic infection from long exposure to the chemicals and the need for farmers to adopt a technique that utilize less of them”.

Mr Ofosu said even though the use of agrochemicals increased yields, its health implications were enormous adding that its acute and chronic implications could not be overemphasized. He called for pragmatic efforts to stem the inappropriate use of agrochemicals in order to reduce the health hazards associated with it.

Mr Ofosu said government’s policy should be to motivate farmers to adopt effective integrated pest management strategies, which combined traditional farming methods, such as crop rotation, fallowing, and manual feeding with artificial pest controls in order to reduce present high-level agrochemical use.

“Furthermore, full financial support should be available to any farmer wishing to adapt to organic farming practices,” he said.

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