GHANA- Stakeholders in Ghana’s agricultural sector have put forth a straightforward yet urgent recommendation: the country’s pesticide approval process needs stringent revisions.
Specifically, experts are advocating for the systematic elimination of all unapproved, highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) and a comprehensive crackdown on the infiltration of unauthorized pesticides into the market.
This proposal comes on the heels of a conference held recently addressing the human rights and environmental concerns linked to pesticide use in Ghana’s cocoa production.
The discussion, hosted by Conservation Alliance International, SEND Ghana, and INKOTA Network at the Holiday Inn in Accra, highlighted critical issues surrounding the nation’s reliance on chemical pesticides.
Farmers, in pursuit of cost-effective and less labor-intensive solutions, have turned to chemical pesticides.
However, a significant portion of these chemicals comprises unapproved pesticides, some of which are classified as highly hazardous by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Disturbingly, some of these banned substances in the European Union (EU) are still widely used in Ghana.
The consequences of this pesticide dependence are dire. Unapproved pesticides, especially those highly hazardous, have been found to contaminate water sources, damage soil quality, and disrupt local biodiversity.
Moreover, the persistent use of these chemicals jeopardizes fundamental human rights, including the right to health, safe working conditions, and a healthy environment.
To address these challenges, stakeholders propose a rigorous overhaul of Ghana’s pesticide approval system.
The immediate objective is to phase out unapproved pesticides, particularly the highly hazardous ones, and prevent their circulation in the market.
“EPA should strongly consider withdrawing its approval for pesticides that are no longer recommended by COCOBOD for use in Cocoa,” the communique read in part.
“Government agencies and local authorities (MMDAs) should therefore ensure that certified retailers sell only approved pesticides to cocoa farmers and that all actors on the value chain go through routine medical check-ups to reduce the health-related risk associated with contact with pesticides.”
The urgency of this situation, as the stakeholders put it, necessitates a comprehensive and unambiguous regulatory framework to ensure the safety of both farmers and the environment.
According to the stakeholders, while pesticide usage undeniably boosts short-term cocoa production, the long-term repercussions on the health of farmers and the sustainability of the environment cannot be ignored.
They therefore called upon concerted efforts among the various regulatory bodies to ensure the future of cocoa cultivation is not tainted by the shadows of dangerous pesticides.
“The security agencies at the borders should prevent the entry of unapproved pesticides into the country.
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Research, Academia, and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) should be strengthened to regularly monitor pesticide residue levels for actions to be taken,” they pointed out.
In addition, they recommended that the certified agro-input dealers, mass sprayers, and farmers should be continuously educated on the risk of using pesticides without strict compliance with to use, storage, and disposal of used containers.
The production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) should also suit the local weather conditions to motivate sprayers to use them.