- The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) in its thrust to promote the proper use of pesticides on agricultural produce is currently targeting farmers, in order to reduce the level of pesticide residue on food.
- In a presentation at the weekly JIS Think Tank, Hyacinth Chin Sue, Registrar of the PCA said that the time had come when farmers needed to understand that "they could not use just any pesticide on any food crops".
- There were, she said, scientific reasons why the farmers should desist.
The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) in its thrust to promote the proper use of pesticides on agricultural produce is currently targeting farmers, in order to reduce the level of pesticide residue on food.
In a presentation at the weekly JIS Think Tank, Hyacinth Chin Sue, Registrar of the PCA said that the time had come when farmers needed to understand that “they could not use just any pesticide on any food crops”.
There were, she said, scientific reasons why the farmers should desist.
“There is something called the maximum residue level, that is the maximum amount of pesticide you should find on any particular crop that is going to be consumed,” she elaborated.
“Some markets for our produce would grow by now if farmers reached a stage where they understood how to use pesticides correctly. You would see for instance, the pepper market growing,” the Registrar continued.
Jamaica, she argued, would in turn, have been able to diversify its produce market, exporting tomatoes and other vegetables if farmers adopted responsible attitudes towards pesticide use.
With an estimated 184,000 farmers in Jamaica, Mrs. Chin-Sue said that the challenge remained how to educate them on the need to pursue good agricultural practices, given the fact that of the total, many are small farmers in remote areas and, their produce are sent to different places for purchase.
The major problem with the farmers, the Registrar pointed out, was that many did not read the labels of the pesticides purchased. As a result, many failed to comprehend how to mix the chemicals.
“We have now done a conversion table for them, although we [PCA] were the ones, who stuck out and said they must change to the metric system,” she disclosed.
“We have simplified it by reverting to the old way and we are in the process of giving every farm store a conversion list,” the Registrar said, while anticipating that the new step would help in addressing the problem of incorrect dilution of chemicals.
In addition to this measure, the PCA has been working closely with both the Bureau of Standards and the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) on the National Certification of Agricultural Produce project, which is geared toward developing good agricultural practices by ensuring that environmental standards are met and that the pesticide residue is at an acceptable level.
“We were enthused when we heard that the JAS was doing something with the Bureau of Standards and, that is why we jumped onboard to participate in the project. We are hoping that slowly, farmers will understand the problem and work towards fixing it,” she said.
Despite the obvious problem, the Registrar said, all was not lost because, banana, coffee, papaya and to a lesser extent, cotton farmers, understood the problem and were applying the correct pesticides as well as observing all the labeling instructions. This was after an open invitation was extended by the PCA to train all farmers in pesticide use.
“The banana people have trained all their applicators and have certified all their important applicators. The papaya farmers have also done so,” she informed. She also singled out the Christina Potato Growers Association, who decided to form a team to offer spraying to all farmers, who were members. “The cost for this provision is deducted from the sales of the produce,” Mrs. Chin Sue said.
The PCA is the governing body mandated through the Pesticides Act of 1975 to carry out the regulation and control of pesticides usage in Jamaica.