Mr Emmanuel Lingule, the Head of the Nandom Area Office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has expressed worry about the irresponsible use of agro-chemicals by some farmers, putting people’s health at risk.
He said these chemicals were often used by farmers for either weeds or pest control without following appropriate precautionary measures to dispose the empty chemical containers.
Mr Lingule who was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Nandom, added that a large number of farmers have become used to the chemicals, but lacked appropriate knowledge on safe handling of the empty containers.
“The challenge about it is that, as farmers use agrochemicals, majority of them do not take precautionary measures to protect themselves from the harmful effects of it,” he said.
“Most farmers can afford to buy the chemicals to use on their farms but often fail to take precautionary measures including getting personal protective clothing such as overall, rubber boots, goggles and gloves,” he explained.
He cited impotency among men, eye infections, burns and giving birth to children with deformities, as some of the harmful effects of the chemicals if they are not used responsibly.
Mr Lingule noted that his outfit was mandated to licence and train retailers of agro-chemicals to enable them to also educate farmers who visited their shops to buy the products, on the responsible use of those products.
“We have trained insecticide retailers in the Nandom area so that they are able to offer some education on how to dress, how to store, how to use and how to dispose of the container after use when the farmers come to buy the chemicals,” he noted.
Mr Lingule regretted the situation where farmers resort to throwing empty chemical containers into water bodies, saying it was a dangerous practice that must be stopped.
He therefore advised them to bury empty chemical containers at least 100 meters away from water source to prevent pollution of water.
Mr Daniel Banuoku, Deputy Director for the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) North, said excessive use of chemicals for farming could affect crop production.
He explained that those chemicals could destroy useful living organisms which contributed to soil fertility as well as destroy some insects that caused the necessary pollination for improved crop yield.
Mr Banuoku therefore encouraged farmers to resort to natural means of weeds and pests control on their farms such as weeding and mulching.