Assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices on the use of pesticides among the farmers in Tirinyi town council, Kibuku district - Uganda.
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ABSTRACT Background The use of a wide range of chemicals to destroy pests and weeds is an important aspect of agricultural practice in both high income, middle income and low-income countries. Undoubtedly, this has increased crop yields and reduced post-harvest losses. Many communities in low- income countries use in- home pesticides and such use are inadequately controlled. Pesticides are the most preferred method of pest control with over 98% use and insecticide spray being the most form of application at 71.4% (Botwe, Ntow et al. 2011) Many of the pesticides applied to food crops in Uganda are present in foods and may pose potential risks to human health. The industrialization of the agricultural sector has increased the chemical burden on the eco-systems. Pesticides are agrochemicals used in agricultural lands and in urban green areas in order to protect plants and humans from various diseases. However, due to their known ability to cause a large number of negative health and environmental effects, their use can be an important environmental health risk factor as pesticide application is inappropriately done in many households mainly due to inadequate knowledge on the use. Objectives This study was aimed at assessing Knowledge, attitude and practices on the use of pesticides among the farmers in Tirinyi Town Council – Kibuku District so as to provide information that will be used in the planning effective strategies for safe pesticide use. Methods This was a cross-sectional study employing both quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection among the households. Data was collected using a structured interviewer administered questionnaire, an observational checklist and Key Informant guide. Quantitative data was managed using epidata then exported to Stata version 14.0 for analysis. Frequencies and percentages were used to describe results which were then presented into tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Qualitative data was presented alongside quantitative data using quotes from Key Informants. Results A total of all the study respondents, 441 farmers participated in the study. Most of the respondents 288/441 (65.31%) were married, 261/441 (59.18%) were males, 162/441 (36.73%) attained primary education as their highest level of education and 197/441 (44.67%) of the farmers were aged between 31-50 years. All the study respondents 441/441 (100.00%) had ever spilt pesticides on their body due to improper fitted lids 123/441 (27.85%) and damaged spraying pumps 169/441 (38.31%). Nearly all the farmers 439/441 (99.55%) knew what pesticides were and a total of 148/441 (33.49%) spilt pesticides through mixing, pouring, loading and others 2/441 (0.35%). Majority of the farmers 421/441 (95.46%) knew insecticides as a pesticide group. In addition, 233/441 (52.83%) did not know how to read and write while 415/441 (94.10%) farmers knew that pesticides enter the body through the nose. Most farmers 307/441 (69.61%) did not know the right color code for the most dangerous pesticides while above half of the farmers 247/441 (56.01%) understood the information written on the pesticide packaging. Majority of the farmers agreed that pesticides are useful 428/441 (97.05%) and that they are associated with health risks 434/441 (98.41%). In addition, majority of the farmers 435/441 (98.64%) had ever experienced a health effect related to pesticide use. More than three quarters of the farmers 332/441 (75.28%) stored their pesticides inside the house and hid them in the field. In addition, of the farmers 406/441 (92.06%) who said that they wore the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), very few 33/406 (8.13%) wore all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and most of the farmers 190/441 (43.08%) disposed the empty pesticide containers in the field. Conclusion Most farmers had low education backgrounds possibly related to why majority of them could not read or write nor understand the information written on the pesticide packaging or containers. In general, majority of the farmers had adequate knowledge on pesticide use and majority of the farmers said that they had ever experienced a health effect related to pesticide use. The farmers attitudes towards pesticide use were positive as post of the farmers agreed on the different attitude concepts that they were asked. Farmers’ practices were generally poor as most of the farmers stored their pesticides inside their houses or hid them in the field and most farmers disposed the empty pesticide containers in the field while, very few farmers wore all the Personal Protective Equipment before applying the pesticides. The local authority in partnership with the other Non-Governmental Organizations should mobilize and sensitize the farmers to always attend in person the training sessions on pesticide use occasionally organized by the agricultural department at both District and Town council levels to reduce on the knowledge, attitude and practice gaps regarding the use of pesticides.