Safe Use of PESTicide in Africa (SUPESTA)

Africa at a glance:

Africa’s population, currently estimated at 1.2 billion people, is expected to double by 2050 placing enormous pressure on food production systems on a continent plagued by low productivity and high poverty. Global attention on Africa’s food security needs has led to an increased reliance on agricultural inputs such as improved seed, fertilizer, and crop protecting pesticides to sustain gains in crop yields. The adoption of crop protecting pesticides has paved the way for pesticide manufacturers and merchants to enter the lucrative market that is driven by Africa’s present and future food production needs. However, pesticide use in Africa comes with potentially serious consequences to human health and the environment.

Africa’s pesticide challenges at a glance:

  • Approximately75% of people engaged in food production placing 900 million people at risk of exposure.
  • Approximately 11 million people poisoned by pesticide each year, with a significant number of casualties.
  • Weak or non-existent pesticide regulatory systems in most African countries.
  • Pesticides are applied by untrained people, sometimes by children.
  • Pesticides are often stored in unlabeled containers such as repurposed soda bottles.
  • Pesticide labels if present are written in a foreign language.
  • Women do most of the field work; they and their children are at particular risk from misapplied pesticide.
  • Over application of pesticides on fruits and vegetables makes produce impossible to export.
  • Rejected pesticide-contaminated produce is then sold for local consumption.

Solution: Pesticide Education and Training to enhance proper and safe use

  • Target: Smallholder farmers, Agro-dealers, Government extension personnel.
  • Training and Education Content:
    • Capacity building.
    • Alternatives to pesticides such as integrated pest management.
  • Development of accessible tools that provide information about pesticide handling.

Supporting evidence: In the United States, state-run pesticide safety education programs deliver educational resources, manuals, training programs, and other valuable information to teach farmers, government workers, and commercial applicators how to safely transport, store, use, and dispose of pesticide products. These trainings increase an individual’s competence and self-confidence in safely and effectively applying pesticides without harming themselves, their fellow Americans, and our environment.