UGANDA – A recent study conducted by Dr. Charles Ssemugabo from Makerere University School of Public Health in Uganda has uncovered concerning levels of pesticide residues in commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.

The research highlighted a significant misunderstanding of pesticide applications among farmers, market vendors, and consumers, leading to potentially harmful concentrations of chemicals in produce.

The study emphasized that these residues, including banned substances like monocrotophos, pose a particular risk to children’s health.

The study, conducted in an agricultural-based economy where daily consumption of fruits and vegetables is a norm, revealed that the improper use of pesticides by farmers and misinterpretation of their role along the supply chain contribute to the issue.

Even though some mitigation measures like washing, peeling, and cooking were employed by consumers, they were often not applied appropriately, leaving residues intact.

Dr. Ssemugabo stressed the urgent need for farmers and stakeholders to adhere to pesticide guidelines, including appropriate mixing concentrations and refraining from post-harvest pesticide applications.

The study calls for comprehensive sensitization programs to educate farmers and other supply chain participants about proper pesticide use.

Additionally, there is a critical requirement to enhance the regulatory framework to ensure the safe and responsible application of these chemicals, reports New Vision.

Challenges in regulation and agroecology

During a press conference marking World Food Day, experts expressed concerns about the lack of robust regulation in chemical handling within the farming sector.

Agro-input dealers, who play a pivotal role in distributing agricultural chemicals, were highlighted as lacking adequate knowledge about appropriate pesticide use, leading to potential hazards.

Hakim Baliraine, Chairperson of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum, emphasized the necessity of embracing agroecology—a sustainable farming approach that works in harmony with nature.

He underscored the importance of regulating chemical usage and providing comprehensive training to farmers to ensure safe agricultural practices and protect consumers from harmful residues.

“There are guidelines which stipulate when the chemicals should be used. The extension workers do not have the time to train a farmer on how the chemicals should be used.

“They have left it to Agro-input dealers yet many of them are ignorant, they just sell to get profits, they don’t have the knowledge on how the farmers should use the chemicals,” he said

The study’s findings highlight a critical issue, urging swift action to safeguard public health and promote responsible farming practices in Uganda.

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