Vegetable Pest Management and Pesticide use in Kigoma, Tanzania: Challenges and way Forward
This study assessed farmers' knowledge and practices regarding pesticide use and pest management in vegetables and implications for human health and the environment. Participatory approaches including focus group discussions, individual farmer interviews and observations were held. The study revealed that most of the farmers are relatively new to vegetable production and use synthetic pesticides as the major strategy for controlling pests and diseases. The farmers lack access to information on proper management of pest and safe use of pesticides, and most often depend on informal advice, notably from pesticide retailers. Consequently, the majority of farmers apply pesticides haphazardly without correctly identifying diseases and pests on their crops. The anomaly is attributed to the lack of knowledge on pesticide use and related hazards, lack of alternatives to synthetic pesticides, stringent market requirements for unblemished crops, and the unwillingness of farmers to accept the risk of crop loss. The indiscriminate application of pesticides, if it remains unchecked, will have adverse effect on the environment, health of farmers and consumers of vegetables. The challenges faced by these farmers in their attempt to manage vegetable pests and possible strategies for intervention are discussed.