Mr Benjamin Oppong Darkwa, Senior Programme Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the sale of agro-chemicals in Ghana would be restricted to only those licensed by the Agency to operate.
He said the measure was necessary to ensure strict compliance with safety guidelines in the sale and handling of agro-chemicals in view of their poisonous nature and danger to public health.
Mr Darkwa gave the hint at a three-day basic training for agriculture input dealers in the Volta Region, in Ho on Tuesday.
It was under the auspices of the Ghana Agro-Dealer Development Project (GADD).
Mr Darkwa advised agro-chemical dealers to also acquire basic training in order to qualify to be licensed by the EPA.
He observed that many agro-chemical sellers have either developed chronic diseases or died from unsafe handling of the chemicals.
Mr Darkwa advised sellers of agro-chemicals to stay outside the shops and avoid eating and drinking there because many dealers have either died or have become chronically ill and impotent by doing so.
He said agro-chemicals were not meant to be sold in open spaces in markets where they could contaminate food and pollute the air, and lose their potency through exposure to sunlight.
Mr Darkwa said EPA licenses for the sale of agro-chemicals are location specific and that they should not be carried about as itinerant traders do unless one was a licensed distributor.
He said EPA licences for the sale of Agro-chemicals should be renewed every year.
Mr Benjamin Horlali K. Atidjah, Business Development and Credit Specialist of the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC), said the three-year training programme (2008 to 2011) funded by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa was meant among others to equip the dealers to educate farmers on the correct use and handling of agro-chemicals.
He said the project seeks to train 2,200 agro-input dealers countrywide and 150 seed producers.
Mr Atidjah said 1,000 agro-input dealers were expected to be trained in the country this year with 70 of them in the Volta Region benefiting.
He lamented that many beneficiaries of the project’s credit guarantee fund have defaulted in repaying the credit extended to them.
Mr Francis Ashinyo, Volta Region Crops Officer of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, reminded agro-chemical sellers that they play essential role in agriculture development in the country and needed regular refresher courses in their area of operation.
Mr Gilbert Asiamah, Volta Region President of Ghana Agriculture Input Dealers Association, advised farmers to refrain from applying agro-chemicals without wearing protective clothing and spraying wrong chemicals on vegetable.
He appealed to the sellers in the Region to join the association and avail themselves for regular training, to promote their businesses, agriculture productivity and public health.