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Opinions of Friday, 4 November 2016


Agro-chemicals harmful to men?

That agro-chemicals pose a threat to humans cannot be disputed.

This fact is unfortunately not realised or respected by a majority of our peasant farmers.

This fact is aggravated due to the fact that most of these farmers are illiterate.

Due to this, farmers suffer certain afflictions which sometimes lead to their death.

In certain districts of the country, investigations have revealed that a number of men have lost their virility due to exposure to these chemicals.

This is the claim of Network for Ricefarmers Associations(UETRICE), an NGO which is educating farmers on the proper use of the chemicals.

Its educational activities are mainly for rice farmers who use a lot of agro-chemicals in their farming activities.

And most of these farmers are women and semi or downright illiterate. Their activities are based in the mid and Northern Volta Region.

The Director of NETRICE, Mr. Ammishadai Owusu said he got involved in this quest to educate the farmers due to a horrifying experience he had from coming into contact with the chemicals.

Himself a farmer, he invited some labourers to come to apply weedicides to a piece of land he intended to cultivate.

During the process, he followed them around the plot freely issuing instructions to them.

Unknown to him, he was imbibing the fumes of the chemicals through his nose, mouth and pores of his exposed skin.

Afterwards he felt unwell, with mainly dizziness, nausea and headaches.

Later checks revealed that the agro-chemicals were the cause of his problem.

As a matter of fact, these chemicals come with directions for their use inscribed on them.

These directives prescribe the way to use them and the safety conditions, that is the protective clothing and others to use.

But from experience, most of the applicants of the chemicals blatantly disregard these guidelines.

This could be attributed mostly to their state of literacy. So to NETRICE, such non-observance to the guidelines could be attributed to some of these ailments.

Thus since 2010, with the coming into being, they have established a number of farmer groups in their catchment area which they educate regularly on safety methods.

Apart from the state of illiteracy of the farmers, some of the chemical sellers do not give those buying the chemicals any assistance since they are also not able to read the guidelines.

NETRICE, in partnership with ‘Powerful Information’ of United Kingdom, applied for funding from a USA-based charity, “Environ Foundation in 2010-2012 for the education process.

They got further funding from a United Kingdom couple, Tony and Judith Yudith Yarrow to continue their activity since 2013.

They have also carried out radio programmes on local FM stations and established farmer field schools in three communities in three districts.

These are at Nyagbo in the Afadzato South, Santrokofi in Hohoe Municipality and Asato in Kadzebi districts.