Non-compliance with agrochemical safety guides and associated health risks among cocoa farmers in the Ashanti Region of Ghana
Although several occupational health hazards are associated with farming, cocoa farmers could be exposed to more health hazards through use of agrochemicals. The objective of this study was to analyze the effect of non-compliance with agrochemical safety guides on health risks of farmers. The data were collected from 246 farmers with structured questionnaires using multi-stage sampling procedures. The data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and Probit regression model. The results showed that 24.80% was ≥60 years and 33.33% had no formal education. Majority of the farmers (93.09%) were using liquid insecticide, 56.10% used liquid fungicides and 52.44% used herbicides. Also, 60.16% had increased their use of insecticides over the past three years and awareness of safety guides was reported by 88.21% for insecticides, 73.98% for fertilizers and 65.04% for fungicides. Also, 74.39% followed manufacturers’ instructions on insecticides usage. Precautionary measures that farmers were taking include not inhaling the chemical (84.15%) and keeping out of reach of children (82.93%). Ownership of agrochemical safety kits was very low with 51.22%, 33.74% and 32.11% having boots, hand gloves and water resistant overall, respectively. Among the health problems suffered after handling agrochemicals are skin irritation (37.80%), eye irritation (33.33%) and headache (32.93%). The Probit regression showed statistical significant (p<0.05) impact of contact and precautionary indices variables with probability of reported health problems in almost all the models, while number of safety kits reduced reported skin infections. It was recommended that more awareness should be created on health hazards associated with agrochemical usage, the need for farmers to use safety kits, and proper education for reducing farmers’ contacts with agrochemicals.
Keywords: Agrochemicals, safety kits, health risks, cocoa farmers, Ashanti region, Ghana