‘Strictly enforce Pesticides and Fertiliser Act’

Africa Needs International (ANI), an international non-governmental organisation, is calling for the strict compliance of the Pesticides and Fertiliser Act (Act 803), to streamline the activities of Agro-chemical dealers and users to safeguard the health of consumers and sustain the labour force of the country.

The Act 2010 (Act 803) enjoins the Pesticide and Fertiliser Regulatory Division (PERD) to supervise and train regulatory inspectors, registers and train pesticide and fertiliser dealers take records and statistics of pesticides and fertilisers, manages pesticide and fertiliser stocks   in   the   country.

They are also mandated to supervise bio-efficacy trials on pesticides and fertilisers by research institutions and to remove obsolete and unwanted Agro-chemicals from the market.

The Act also spells out a four -year jail term for people who flout it.

The coordinator of ANI, William Darko, who made the call in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on Wednesday, indicated that the abuse of agro chemicals as well as using untrained hands to administer chemicals on farm lands hampered agricultural productivity and caused toxicity of the farms, resulting in inadequate yields and climate related effects.

He, therefore, reiterated the need for PERD to act promptly on the menace to avoid the growing lapses in the agricultural sector of the country.

The coordinator said since agriculture employed more than 70 per cent of the Ghanaian population resulting to being a significant contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it was very necessary for the sector to be managed more efficiently to promote food safety.

Pesticides and  fertilisers, he said, were major  inputs that  accounted for increasing crop yields and  farm profits, adding that a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of global crop yields were reduced each year due to the damage wrought  pests, hence the increasing demand of the commodities.

Mr Darko explained that, the report also showed that global fertiliser use was likely to rise above 200.5 million metric tonnes due to the growing demands for food production because of the rapid increase of population.

According to him, the importance of pesticides and fertilisers could not be overemphasised in farming, but the   proliferation of agro inputs outlets within all farming communities without requisite skills on mode of application had become a danger to human lives and water resources, adding that there was an urgent need for the situation to be salvaged.

He lamented that the imminent danger was the use of unskilled shop attendants with no basic knowledge of calibration and usage of agrochemicals with most of them unlicensed, saying there were about 700 rural retailers of fertilisers spread across the Ghana.  

Citing examples of abuse, he mentioned an incidence in the early part of 2018 where four people died from residual contamination of agrochemicals at Dua da so, a farming community at Akyemansa District, in the Eastern Region, with several others who were treated and discharged from the hospital after consuming the poison.

BY RAISSA SAMBOU

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