Ghana’s Pesticide Crisis: The Need for Further Government Action

Report for Northern Presbyterian Agricultural Services (Ghana) (April 2012)

This is a study of the use of chemical pesticides by farmers in northern Ghana, asking: how safe is the current use of pesticides and is the government adequately regulating it? The report finds that health problems associated with pesticides use are widespread: NPAS’ survey of 183 farmers in 14 villages in Upper East region found that more than a quarter had recently suffered from directly inhaling chemicals and one fifth from spillage of chemicals on the body. In late 2010, 15 farmers died from suspected pesticide poisoning in Upper East region, most resulting from poor storage of pesticides, which seeped into food stocks. These deaths may well be the tip of the iceberg: Senior health officials believe that some ‘natural’ deaths among Ghanaian farmers might be related to pesticide use, partly since poisonings are hard to diagnose. Around seven banned or restricted chemical pesticides appear to be still being used by some Ghanaian farmers, as are other dangerous chemical pesticides that the government has cleared for use and failed to ban. Food consumers are also affected: Residues from six banned or restricted chemical pesticides have been found in food samples in recent academic studies. The pesticide problem is compounded by unscrupulous private companies illegally importing pesticides into Ghana and by an industry behind pesticides that is driving increased use in Ghana. The government is aware of the dangers of pesticides and is taking a number of measures to ensure the safer use of pesticides, but legislation is not being implemented adequately, largely due to insufficient allocation of resources. The capacity for regulation has not kept pace with the liberalization of the pesticides market that the government has been so keen to encourage.

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