A survey of knowledge and pesticide handling practices among small scale horticultural farmers in Makindu division, Makueni district, Kenya.
Kioko, Marrian Mutete
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While pesticides play an important role in improvement of agriculture yields, they also present harmful effects to human health especially when improperly handled. Yet, little is known about farmers' knowledge about pesticides and pesticide handling practices. Hence, this crossectional, descriptive study was designed to assess the knowledge, attitude and pesticide handling practices among small-scale horticultural farmers in Makindu, Makueni District. A population of 300 horticultural farmers and all the 20 pesticide stockists in Makindu were recruited and interviewed using structured questionnaire and focus group discussions. In terms of knowledge of pesticides, 63.5% had inadequate while 22.6% had no knowledge and only 13.9% had adequate knowledge. Knowledge of pesticide exposure was closely associated with farming duration (c²4=13.5, p<0.009<p=0.05). Knowledge off pesticide use instructing among the farmers was below average (40%) with illiteracy accounting for 29% of the lack of knowledge. A significant population of the farmers (30%) bought pesticides in small portions with a significant association being observed between the package sizes bought and farmers' attitude towards pesticides as absolutely necessary for food farming (c29=22.9, p=0.006<p=0.05). Farmers used pesticides to eliminate pests (47.3%) and better yield (25.6%) and this depended on their farming duration (c²8=24.9,p=0.002<p=0.05). Most of the farmers sprayed pesticides on to their crops early in the morning and evening (92.7%). Thirty two percent of the farmers against the wind and the practice depended on farming duration (c²4=11.8,p=0.02<p=0.05). Approximately, 38% of the farmers mixed pesticides in the Knapsack sprayer while others used household utensils: bowels and plates (5.4%), basins and buckets (21.1%) and spoons (2.8%). More men (62.9%) than women (10.7%) applied pesticide. Pesticide storage was variable: chemical store (26.6%), granary (20.9%), bedroom (14.8%) and kitchen (3.8%). Pesticide disposal was also variable: burning, (25.4%), pit latrine (22%) and 18.5% of the farmers threw the used pesticide containers into the local river. Majority of the farmers (60.3%) never wore any protective devices and gave inaccessibility (20.2%), unaffordable (64%) and unimportant practice (21%) as the reasons for the practice. The overall results urgent intervention programmes on pesticide handling practices among small-scale farmers to safeguard the environment and human health.
- MST-Zoological Sciences