PROJECT TOPIC- EVALUATION OF FARMER’S KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL IN THE USE OF AGROCHEMICALS IN UDI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE
The study was done on the evaluation of the farmer’s knowledge and skills in the use of agrochemicals in agricultural productivity in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. A multi stage random sampling was used to select a total of 120 respondents from the 22 communities that make up the Udi Local Government. Data obtained from the field survey were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as frequency, table percentage and mean scores. The results of the analysis of the data showed that greater percentage of the farmers were within the age distribution of 41 – 50 years. It also showed that majority of the farmers (96.7%) have the knowledge of agrochemicals which they learnt through the help of their friends. Majority (80.8%) of the farmers were semi skilled in agrochemical usage who accepted to have used pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, bacteriocides and rodenticides. The result of multiple regression analysis indicated high value of R2 (0.810) and low standard error of (0.83706). From the test of hypothesis using f-cal, it was concluded that the socio economic characteristics of the farmers had significant effect on the level of their knowledge on agrochemical uses. The farmers equally accepted that food poisoning, body irritation, soil acidification and environmental degradation are the residual effects of agrochemicals in agricultural productivity. They equally identified high cost of agrochemicals, it negative effect on human health, reduced quality of farm produce, air pollution, death of aquatic lives and soil degradation as the constraint limiting their use of agrochemicals in the study area. Recommendation were made based on the findings that the farmers should form self help groups/co-operative societies to enable them solve the problem of high cost of agrochemicals. Also the government should help by subsidizing the price and also provide adequate training to the farmers so as to reduce the negative effects of agrochemicals on the crops, animals, humans and environment.
Agriculture (crop production and animal husbandry) is the core of economy and the largest employer of labour and contributes up to 50% of National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (MAFS, 2002). In developing countries of the world including Nigeria, rapid human population growth is experienced. This increase in human population goes along with increased food demand. Man was able to coax high productivity through the breeding and management of food plant and animal through knowledge and technology in order to meet the demand for food.
One of the modern technologies currently in use to improve productivity is the use of agrochemicals. Agrochemical is a contraction of agricultural chemicals which is a generic term for various chemical product used in agriculture. The British Agrochemical Association (1996) defined agrochemicals to include large tonnage fertilizers like inorganic salts supplying ammonium, potassium, nitrate and phosphate ions for major crop nutrition.
But not limited to that, it also included specialized nutrient product such as organic chalets of iron and manganese aimed at curbing deficiencies “disease of plants” and those chemical compounds having some other uses as the encouragement of rooting of cutting or off setting of fruits. Agrochemical also refers to the broad range of pesticide including insecticide, herbicides and fungicides. It may also include synthetic fertilizers, hormones and other chemical growth agents and concentrated stores of raw animal manure (Larry 2012).
The term agrochemicals is very broadly to include all chemical products intended for use in prevention and control of pests and diseases as well as weeds in crop or chemical products used to protect harvested products against pest and diseases or chemical products used to eradication mosquito or ticks of cattle and other acaricides (Wilma, Arendse and Jennes, Aragones 1989).
An agrochemical was also defined as chemicals such as fertilizers, hormone, pesticide or soil treatment that improves the production of crop (International Journal of Environmental Protection Aug 2013, vol.3 Iss.8, pp 48) In nature, there are no pests. Human label as “pest” any plant (s) or animals that endanger our food supply, health or comfort (Keith S Delaplane 1996). Agrochemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) are looked upon as a vehicle for improved crop production technology though, it is a costly input.
Balance use, optimum doses, correct method and right time application of agrochemicals ensures increase crop production (Govinda Bhandari 2014). Most agrochemicals are toxic and all agrochemicals in bulk storage and on use poses significant environmental and / or health risk mostly in the event of accidental spills. As mentioned above, agrochemical is a costly input in terms of both financial, environmental and health aspect.
The only Africa national assessment of external cost (environmental and health) of pesticides was done in Mali in 2001 as reported by Ajayi et al (2002) and the cost are seriously underestimated due to lack of data to quantify their impacts from residues in food, on soil fertility and biodiversity or environmental pollution. In Chinese case, research shows that the external costs of pesticides exceeded the market value of the pesticides for every US$1.0 worth of pesticides applied, cost to society in form of health and environmental damage averaged US$1.86 (Pretty and Waibel 2005).
This may be a good reflection of the situation in Nigeria where the risk associated with health and environment are reportedly caused by the farmer’s lack of knowledge on how to use the agrochemicals and the required skill for effective use. According to Ohaji (1994) it has been observed that response of the small-scale farmers in the use of such pesticides continue to decrease per year.
Some of the reasons adduced are perceived high cost of pesticides and poor financial position of most small-scale farmers, lack of awareness on the benefits of pesticides, lack of knowledge on proper and safe application methods, non-availability and inaccessibility of pesticides as well as misinformation on the health risk of pesticides. Safety and health in the use of agrochemicals has been one of the primary concerns of international organisations and of many governments, employers and workers and their organisations for over two decades ILO (1991).
Some agrochemicals such as pesticides are extremely hazardous to the health of workers and the general public, and also to the environment. However, they can be used safely if proper precautions are taken. Many industrially developed countries therefore enforce strict regulations with regard to the production, sale and use of pesticides, the most hazardous group among agrochemicals ILO (1991).
These countries have banned or severely restricted the use of some very hazardous pesticides. It happen that other countries may be compelled to import those banned or restricted agrochemicals because of specific needs, for example to eradicate a particular pest. For these countries, the economic benefits of agricultural development outweigh the risks involved. Although the safety and health problems may vary in different countries, it is important to establish clear, common procedures for the use of agrochemicals.
All those who are responsible for the production, importation, storage and sale of agrochemicals have a role to play in ensuring safety and health in their uses. International organisations, governments, employers, workers and their organisations, and community leaders have a fundamental role; educating agrochemical users on the hazards of the substances they handle, how these enter the body, the nature of toxic effects and the proper methods of use, and informing them of the duties and responsibilities of government authorities, other organisations and the public.
Many agrochemicals causes localised ill-effects on contact with skin or eyes even if they are not absorbed. They include some pesticides, strong acids such as sulphuric acid and strong alkalis such as caustic soda. Veterinary products may also cause problems when their use is subjected to the added task of controlling the animals being treated. Accidental self-injection or needle grazing of the skin could occur.
Such accidents may produce severe localised ill-effects, depending on the extent of skin penetration. It has already been said that agricultural workers may be exposed to a variety of agrochemicals at work. Most of these are toxic. Therefore, all agrochemical users must know how to use the products safely by increasing their knowledge of the hazards involved, both to themselves and others.
Knowledge is a powerful weapon which can be obtained by reading and understanding the label on the container. By strictly following the instructions on the label, agrochemical users will learn to protect themselves, other people, livestock, wildlife and the environment. The above conditions are similar to what we experience in Nigeria today. Despite that there are programmes or policies in place to address these challenges they have failed probably because there are no research documentations on the severity of the issue. In an attempt to provide an answer to these problems necessitate this study.
PROJECT TOPIC- EVALUATION OF FARMER’S KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL IN THE USE OF AGROCHEMICALS IN UDI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The major problem agricultural sector is facing today are great losses of its products. These losses are as a result of pests, weeds and disease attack. According to Ikemefuna (1991), there is a loss estimated of about N1.4billion annually to pest and diseases attack which destroy about 3million tonnes of grains, 102,000 tonnes of legumes and 45million tonne of tubers each year.
The use of agrochemical has however substantially helped to reduce the risk of yield losses and has contributed to increasing agricultural productivity. Organic source of mineral nutrient are certainly not available in sufficient quantities to feed sub-sahara Africans’ current population of about 750million and that population will be 1.1billion by 2020(Otunaiya,Okuneye and Aihonsu 2012). Inorganic fertilizer seems to be one of the practical ways to provide enough plant nutrients to restore Africa’s nutrient-depleted soils and feed Africa human population (Ahemba 2009).
Despite the benefits involve in the use of agrochemicals, there are also health and environmental problems associated to its use. However, the farmers’ knowledge on the use of agrochemicals in Nigeria has been fraught with problems. The small-scale farmers who represent three quarter of Nigerian population and for a long time, the pivot of agricultural production have not harnessed their full potentials on the use of agrochemicals.
In the developed countries, issue related to the use of agrochemicals to improve agricultural productivity have been properly addressed and this has also helped to minimize hazardous effect involved in the misuse of these agrochemicals to a bearable level. Whereas in most developing countries, much publicity has not been made to enlighten the public on the implication of the misuse of agrochemicals, its health and environment associated risk (Backman 1997).
Again, the costs are seriously underestimated because there are no data to quantify impacts from residue in food, on soil fertility and biodiversity or environmental pollution (Ajayi et al 2002). According to the news published by Business Day on 27th June 2008, reviews that in Gombe state, about 50 students were reported to have become ill after consuming beans, more than 120 students attending Government Girls Secondary School, Doma, were said to have received treatment in the hospital after eating beans. It was revealed that the beans contain toxic pesticides. Importantly, the issue related to the use of agrochemicals should be addressed.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Generally, the study seeks to evaluate farmer’s knowledge and skills in the use of agrochemicals and their attitude towards agricultural chemicals in general.
1.4 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
- to determine the socio-economic attributes of the farmers in the study area.
- to investigate farmer’s level of knowledge and skill on agrochemical use.
- to determine the type and extent of which farmers uses agrochemicals in crop production in the study area.
- to determine the effect of socio-economic characteristics of farmers on agrochemical uses in the study area.
- to identify the residual or accumulated effect of agrochemicals on agricultural productivity in the study are
- To find out the constraints limiting farmers’ use of agrochemicals in the study area.
1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESIS
Ho: There is no significant relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of farmers and their level of knowledge and skill in the use of agrochemicals.
1.6 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
The nation will benefit in as much as the study will help to fish out those problems involved in the use of agrochemicals and other raw materials to the farmers. This will serve as a base for government and policy makers to develop new programmes or make necessary adjustment in the existing ones for increased food and raw material production. In developing countries such as Nigeria, food supply is inadequate and the quality of food highly indeterminate due to poor agricultural technology and disease, weeds and pest attack.(Igwegbe and Ezueh, 1990). Therefore protection of our crop through the control of pest and disease agents can make major contribution towards increased agricultural productivity, standard of living of rural community dwellers and national development. Furthermore, farmers will benefit from this study by using the recommendations which this study will provide to know how to use the agrochemicals and the necessary related precautionary measures to be considered to reduce the health and environmental risk involved.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The major problem encountered during the cause of this study was that majority of the respondents interviewed were not able to fill the questionnaires themselves which resulted in spending much time on one individual that would have been used to interview more persons. Most of the farmers interviewed were unable to calculate their actual annual income which resulted to more work trying to estimate it through the little sales they make frequently for the year.