Pesticide Utilization Practices, Exposure and Vulnerability of the Cocoa Farming Community of Ikwuano in Abia State, Nigeria
The pesticide utilization practices, exposure and vulnerability of farmers to pesticide hazards were investigated in the Ikwuano community of Abia state in Nigeria. The social vulnerability theory, as developed by Wisner et al., (2003), was adopted as the theoretical framework, with an emphasis on the Pressure and Release (PAR) and Access Models (AM). A qualitative research approach was used which included interviews and focus group discussions. The study indicated that the awareness of pesticide hazards needs to be raised for farmers and the government. Farmers still use banned pesticides and they are seriously affected by these chemicals. It was also observed that the farming community lacks access to important resources such as education, training facilities, information and hospitals. These resources would have helped them to cope, adapt and recover from the impacts of pesticide hazards. The research also revealed that institutional limitations, such as government neglect, ineffective pesticide regulations and a lack of efficient agro-extension services are the contextual causes of the farmers’ vulnerabilities to pesticide hazards. These limitations consistently put ‘pressure’ on the farmers, while the Nigerian government has done little or nothing to ‘release’ this pressure. There should be more effective pesticide regulations and control in order to prevent the use and misuse of banned pesticides by farmers. In addition, the existing agro-extension services should be strengthened and made more effective in reaching out to farmers in rural areas, providing them with training and information on the safe handling and usage of pesticides.