Farmer perceptions and pesticide use practices in vegetable production in Ghana.
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As an initial part of a programme aimed at promoting safe and sound agricultural practices in Ghana, a study was made of farmers' perceptions of pesticides for use and application in vegetable production, using a small survey of 137 farmers who applied pesticides. Field surveys, interviews, questionnaires and analytical games were used to obtain information on the type, scope and extent of use of pesticides, farmers' knowledge of pesticides, and their perceptions about the chemicals' potential for harm. Data from this sample of farmers were used to describe the status of use of pesticides in vegetable cultivation in Ghana. Using chi(2) tests, associations between farmers' age and possible pesticide poisoning symptoms, their farm size and method of spraying pesticides, and their perception of pesticide hazard and its perceived effectiveness against pests were also examined. The survey showed that knapsack sprayers were the most widely used type of equipment for spraying pesticides. However, on large-scale vegetable farms of 6-10 acres, motorised sprayers were also used. Various inappropriate practices in the handling and use of pesticides caused possible poisoning symptoms among those farmers who generally did not wear protective clothing. Younger farmers (< 45 years of age) were the most vulnerable group, probably because they did more spraying than older farmers (> 45 years of age). Farmers did not necessarily associate hazardous pesticides with better pest control. The introduction of well-targeted training programmes for farmers on the need for and safe use of pesticides is advocated. (c) 2006 Society of Chemical Industry.
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