Publications

Vegetable farmers’ behaviour and knowledge related to pesticide use and related health problems : A case study from Bangladesh

Akter, Mousumi; Fan, Liangxin; Rahman, M.M.; Geissen, Violette; Ritsema, Coen J.

Summary

Proper pesticide use is crucial to farmers’ health and environmental protection. However, the factors affecting a farmer's behaviour with regards to pesticide use remain largely unknown in Bangladesh, particularly for vegetable farmers. Hence, we investigated the use of pesticides by vegetable growers amongst 101 households in an intensive vegetable growing area of Jamalpur district in Bangladesh. Each farmer's background, knowledge, attitude, health problems, experience, protective behaviour, and pesticide use were collected in order to examine the behavioural activities of farmers in relation to their pesticide use and to identify the related factors effecting use. The majority of vegetable growers have long term experience with pesticide use and are involved in full-time vegetable growing. However, even with this long term experience, these growers continue to suffer with toxicity symptoms during pesticide application. Vomiting and headaches are the most frequent symptoms. Amongst eight possible protective behaviours (PBs) reported to be known by the farmers, only three were frequently adopted. The low educational level, the lack of knowledge, insufficient training and the pursuit of high profits were found to be the main reasons for the inadequate use of PBs. The PBs of the vegetable growers were highly affected by their knowledge and past experiences of toxicity. The PBs were also weakly affected by the farmers’ attitude towards pesticide use. Community-based participatory training and education programmes for farmers need to cover both content and process dimensions as well as focus on both on-season and off-season training, specifically targeting woman and elder farmers. Focus group discussions, learn-by-experience examples, photographs and experience sharing can be employed in training and education programmes for improving the farmers’ PBs.