|Kilimo News - A Quarterly Newsletter of the Ministry of Agriculture - September 1998 (Agriculture Information Centre, 1998, 32 p.)|
J. N. Mutea - PESTICIDE ADVISORY BOARD
In Kenya, 85% of the population is involved in agricultural activities generating 30% of the Gross Domestic Product and 60% of all exports and services. This is possible despite the fact that only 20% of the available land is suitable for farming. The current projection is that the population mark will hit 35 million by the year 2000. To meet the food requirements for this population, ways to maximise productivity must be sought. One such way is the use of pesticides. Unfortunately many farmers are not aware of the health hazards posed by careless handling of these chemicals.
Because of the dangers posed by the use of pesticides for increased productivity, Plant Protection Services Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in collaboration with the Safe Use Project (SUP) and Pest Control Products Board (PCBB) have continued to closely monitor the importation, distribution and use of agrochemicals in the country. Strict supervision and farmer education have been carried out to ensure that ineffective and high risk chemicals are not allowed into the country and that farmers do not get cheated by unscrupulous pesticide dealers.
Due to the high health risks involved in mishandling and misuse of chemicals by farmers, children, farm workers, extension officers and pesticide stockists, the Ministry with other stake holders in the industry have conducted massive campaigns aimed at educating users on the dangers and safety precautions to follow when using agrochemicals. Various programmes, within the MOA have been successfully implemented with a view to improving farmers awareness on the dangers involved in misuse of pesticides.
A farmer in the right gear for spraying
The Kenya Safe use Project of the Ministry has a primary objective of training trainers who in turn use extension services to educate small scale farmers on safe use of pesticides. Since its inception in 1991, over 2000 extension personnel have been trained as key trainers for Technical Assistants. On the same strength, over 400,000 small scale farmers have benefited from similar training programmes in Eastern, Central and Western provinces; areas where pesticides are heavily used.
While the use of organic farming is appreciated, the use of pesticides will still be highly regarded for increased agricultural production. Integrated Pest Management has been one of the key subjects in the training programs and will continue to feature prominently in future. Safety for the producer, consumer and the environment is the objective. Regular updates on safe use of chemicals will be appearing regularly in future issues of this magazine.
Farmers are safe with pesticides as long as they use registered products according to the set instructions on the labels or as adviced by extension agents.