Farmers Urged To Exercise Caution When Using Pesticides


Phillip Chung, senior plant protection specialist at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has urged the nation’s farmers to exercise caution when administering pesticides to their crops.
He said that as a first rule, farmers should only use pesticides as a last resort. “Never use pesticides unless it is necessary, because the less you put pesticides in the environment, the safer it will be for both the farmer and the whole ecosystem,” he pointed out, noting that there would also be less residue on produce, making them safer for human consumption.
Mr. Chung also cautioned farmers to ensure that they were using the correct pesticide for the specific problem, as not all pesticides will control all pests. Once the correct pesticide has been selected, he said, it must be administered in the recommended dosage as using the improper amount would render the chemical ineffective and cause the pests to develop resistance to the pesticide.
He said they must also ensure that the pesticide was distributed evenly and adequately over plants and wear protective gear to avoid inhalation and to prevent contact with the skin or the eyes. Agriculturalists are also being asked not to spray during a high wind as the chemicals may blow on the person carrying out the spraying.
Disposal of pesticides is crucial as well, and so farmers are cautioned to mix the right amount of chemical for the specific job to avoid throwing away excesses, which may cause contamination of ground water sources. Neither should empty containers be disposed of in ground water sources, Mr. Chung stated.
As a member of the board of the Pesticide Control Authority, one of RADA’s objective is to advise farmers about the safe and proper use of pesticides.In fulfilling this mandate, RADA’s extension officers have been visiting local farms and advising farmers about the proper use of pesticides and offering solutions to problems farmers were having with the use of the chemicals.
RADA also checks to find out the extent of poisonings in the field, although Mr. Chung pointed out that the officers very rarely found incidences of death from pesticide poisoning.
Symptoms of pesticide poisoning include: loss of consciousness, itching, excessive salivation and nausea. When these things happen the farmer must be removed immediately from the scene to fresh air, his clothes removed and his body properly washed with soap.
If he loses consciousness, he must also be taken for medical attention and the pesticide container carried to ascertain its contents.
Pesticide awareness week was observed from September 23 to 30 with emphasis placed on the distribution, handling and safe use of chemicals.

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