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Use of Chemical Pesticides in Ethiopia: A Cross-Sectional Comparative Study on Knowledge Attitude and Practice of Farmers and Farm Workers in Three Farming Systems

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Use of Chemical Pesticides in Ethiopia: A Cross-Sectional Comparative Study on Knowledge Attitude and Practice of Farmers and Farm Workers in Three Farming Systems

Abstract and Figures

Chemical pesticides, regardless of their inherent hazard, are used intensively in the fast changing agricultural sector of Ethiopia. We conducted a cross-sectional pesticide Knowledge Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey among 601 farmers and farm workers (applicators and re-entry workers) in three farming systems [large-scale closed greenhouses (LSGH), large-scale open farms (LSOF), and small-scale irrigated farms (SSIF)]. Main observations were that 85% of workers did not attain any pesticide-related training, 81% were not aware of modern alternatives for chemical pesticides, 10% used a full set of personal protective equipment, and 62% did not usually bath or shower after work. Among applicators pesticide training attendance was highest in LSGH (35%) and was lowest in SSIF (4%). None of the female re-entry farm workers had received pesticide-related training. Personal protective equipment use was twice as high among pesticide applicators as among re-entry workers (13 versus 7%), while none of the small-scale farm workers used personal protection equipment. Stockpiling and burial of empty pesticide containers and discarding empty pesticide containers in farming fields were reported in both LSOF and by 75% of the farm workers in SSIF. Considerable increment in chemical pesticide usage intensity, illegitimate usages of DDT and Endosulfan on food crops and direct import of pesticides without the formal Ethiopian registration process were also indicated. These results point out a general lack of training and knowledge regarding the safe use of pesticides in all farming systems but especially among small-scale farmers. This in combination with the increase in chemical pesticide usage in the past decade likely results in occupational and environmental health risks. Improved KAP that account for institutional difference among various farming systems and enforcement of regulatory measures including the available occupational and environmental proclamations in Ethiopia are urgently needed.
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© e Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society
•  1
Use of Chemical Pesticides in Ethiopia:
ACross-Sectional Comparative Study on
Knowledge Aitude and Practice of Farmers
and Farm Workers in ree Farming Systems
BeyeneNegatu1,2*, HansKromhout1, YalemtshayMekonnen3 and
RoelVermeulen1
1Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, e Netherlands;
2Pesticide Risk Reduction Project Ethiopia, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
3Microbial, Cellular and Molecular Biology Department, Collage of Natural and Computational Sciences,
Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel:+31-0-302539440/+251-911170183; Fax : +31-0-302539499;
e-mail: b.negatu@uu.nl/beyene_negatu@yahoo.com
Submied 2 September 2015; revised 28 October 2015; revised version accepted 21 December 2015.
ABSTRACT
Chemical pesticides, regardless of their inherent hazard, are used intensively in the fast changing agri-
cultural sector of Ethiopia. We conducted a cross-sectional pesticide Knowledge Aitude and Practice
(P) survey among 601 farmers and farm workers (applicators and re-entry workers) in three farming
systems [large-scale closed greenhouses (LSGH), large-scale open farms (LSOF), and small-scale irri-
gated farms (SSIF)]. Main observations were that 85% of workers did not aain any pesticide-related
training, 81% were not aware of modern alternatives for chemical pesticides, 10% used a full set of
personal protective equipment, and 62% did not usually bath or shower aer work. Among applicators
pesticide training aendance was highest in LSGH (35%) and was lowest in SSIF (4%). None of the
female re-entry farm workers had received pesticide-related training. Personal protective equipment use
was twice as high among pesticide applicators as among re-entry workers (13 versus 7%), while none
of the small-scale farm workers used personal protection equipment. Stockpiling and burial of empty
pesticide containers and discarding empty pesticide containers in farming elds were reported in both
LSOF and by 75% of the farm workers in SSIF. Considerable increment in chemical pesticide usage
intensity, illegitimate usages of DDT and Endosulfan on food crops and direct import of pesticides
without the formal Ethiopian registration process were also indicated. ese results point out a general
lack of training and knowledge regarding the safe use of pesticides in all farming systems but especially
among small-scale farmers. is in combination with the increase in chemical pesticide usage in the
past decade likely results in occupational and environmental health risks. Improved P that account
for institutional dierence among various farming systems and enforcement of regulatory measures
including the available occupational and environmental proclamations in Ethiopia are urgently needed.
KEYWORDS: chemical pesticides; Ethiopia; farm types; knowledge aitude practice; training
Ann. Occup. Hyg., 2016, 1–16
doi:10.1093/annhyg/mew004
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INTRODUCTION
Ethiopia, the second populous nation in Africa with
85% of its population (currently estimated to be at
96.6 million individuals) living in rural areas, depends
on the agricultural sector for necessities and as a
source of employment. e agricultural sector cur-
rently contributes 47% of the Gross National Product
(Ethiopian economy, 2015). In the past decade, there
has been a strong intensication in agriculture produc-
tion. Particularly in emerging farming systems [large-
scale closed greenhouses (LSGH) and small-scale
irrigation farms (SSIF)] with the aim to increase crop
production as to alleviate the chronic food security
problem in the country and increase national income
through export of agricultural products like cut ow-
ers and vegetables. Agricultural development poli-
cies in many developing countries have resulted in an
increase in the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical
pesticides as a means to increase agricultural produc-
tion (Ngowi, 2003).
Pesticides are one of the vital inputs in agriculture
to prevent loss of production, but if not properly han-
dled and/or managed they could create major envi-
ronmental and human health risks (Vergucht, 2006).
ese risks could be high particularly for those occu-
pationally exposed (McCauley, 2006). Occupational
pesticide exposure can occur directly during mixing
and pesticide application and indirectly while per-
forming re-entry tasks in pesticide-treated crops or
by take home exposure. Pesticide exposure can occur
through the skin (dermal uptake), via the respiratory
system (inhalation), or via the mouth (ingestion)
and may result in health eects like ocular, dermal,
cardiovascular, gastro intestinal, carcinogenic, endo-
crine disruption, developmental, neurological, and
respiratory eects (Damalas etal., 2011; Ntzani etal.,
2013).
Studies in developing countries, done mainly
among male pesticide applicators, have oen indicated
unsafe use (handling and management) of pesticides.
For example, it has been reported that a majority of
the farmers in Ghana do not properly wear protective
measures (Ntow etal., 2006); that there is a negligible
use of protective clothing, among small-scale farmers
in the African countries of Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana,
and Senegal (Williamson etal., 2008); and that female
farmers have limited access to pesticide training, in
South Africa (Naidoo etal., 2010).
ough Ethiopia has endorsed many proclama-
tions in order to minimize and control occupational
and environmental risks in general and pesticides in
particular (Pesticide registration and control procla-
mation number 674/2010, Labor proclamation num-
ber 277/2003 and Environmental pollution control
proclamation number 300/2002), previously con-
ducted pesticide-related Knowledge Altitude Practice
(P) studies in Ethiopia have indicated that farm
workers had limited knowledge on pesticide hazards,
inadequate awareness about safe pesticide manage-
ment, and poor hygienic and sanitation practices
(Mekonnen and Agonafer, 2002; Amera, and Abate,
2008; Karunamoorthi etal., 2011). All previous P
studies done in Ethiopia were focused on pesticide
applicators, small-scale non-irrigated farms (SSNIF);
non-commercial subsistent farmers producing mainly
maize or large-scale open farms (LSOF). As agricul-
tural practices have changed dramatically in recent
years, we repeated and extended the P survey to
current farming systems including emerging ones
where pesticide usage is expected to be higher due to
production of horticultural crops for commercial pur-
poses [large-scale closed horticultural greenhouses
(LSGH) and small-scale irrigated farms (SSIF)] and
included both applicators and re-entry workers.
METHODS
e study was conducted in the Central Eastern part
of Ethiopia where abundant hydrological resources
exists from the Ri valley Lakes and Awash River
(Fig.1). Farms in the area can be divided in four farm-
ing systems. ree of the farming systems produce
commercial crops on which use of agrochemicals
including pesticides is expected to be high due to
production of dierent kinds of horticultural crops:
roses and cuings in LSGH, vegetable, fruit and cot-
ton in LSOF and mainly vegetables such as onions and
tomatoes in SSIF. Crops produced in these farming
systems are mainly for export purposes and for local
consumption mainly in the capital city, Addis Ababa.
We did not include the farming system of small sub-
sistence (non-commercial) farms due to their low use
of pesticides.
Six hundred one farm workers comprising of 256
pesticide applicators and 345 re-entry workers were
included in the study. Applicators were dened as
farmers and farm workers who are directly involved in
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pesticide application-related activities (i.e. pesticide
mixers/loaders, pesticide sprayers, and application
supervisors) whereas re-entry workers were dened
as workers who usually enter the pesticide sprayed
elds aer spraying activities or handle the produce
(i.e. harvesters, pesticide assessors, irrigation workers,
irrigation supervisors, packing and sorting workers,
transport/push car workers).
Study subjects were selected and invited to par-
ticipate if they had been working on the farm for the
past 12months. Participation was on an anonymous
and voluntary basis and verbal consent was obtained
from all the participants aer explanation of the objec-
tives of the study, condentiality of the information
they provide, their right to ask any question during the
interview and even to stop participating at anytime.
In this study, our aim was to include all applicators
and due to the much larger number of re-entry work-
ers present in the farming systems a random selec-
tion from all re-entry workers per each of the selected
farms. Due to uneven distribution of pesticide applica-
tors and re-entry workers in farms of dierent farming
systems, there was a slight dierence in the selection
process. Generally, in SSIF there is at least a farmer or
farm worker (usually applicator) and if it is a harvest-
ing day re-entry workers. In the case of LSGH, usually
there are few applicators on a farm in comparison to re-
entry workers. Due to large number of re-entry work-
ers, we randomly selected a subset of re-entry workers
as to obtain general information on re-entry. Similar
to LSGH in LSOF there are few applicators on a farm
while there are many more re-entry workers do their
work scaered on a large area (which limits availabil-
ity). We therefore established interview spots in LSOF
where all re-entry workers available for interview at the
interview spots in the selected units and all applicators
present during the 8days of the survey, 2days per each
interview spot were included in thestudy.
Recruitment of farm workers in SSIF was done by
randomly selecting ve primary farmers’ cooperatives
Figure1 Location map of the study area.
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from the Meki–Batu vegetables and fruit growers’
cooperatives union which operates in the study area
including Adami Tulu and Dugda Bora districts
(Fig.1). Each member’s farm was visited based on the
list obtained from the farmers union, all farmers and
farm workers (applicators and re-entry workers) pre-
sent at each farm were invited to participate.
For the survey in the LSOF, in order to increase
accessibility to the re-entry farm workers four units
were randomly selected where an interview spot was
established per unit, two from each of two big LSOF
i.e. Merti-jeju (4 units) and Nuraera (5 units) which
are under umbrella of Upper Awash Agro-Industry
Enterprise (UAAIE) located in Merti and Jeju districts.
In the case of LSGH, two farms were randomly
selected from two clusters in the study area (Zeway
cluster with ve farms, and Koka cluster with four
farms which are 68 km apart). All application and re-
entry workers were invited, randomly selected from a
list obtained from farm managers with a sampling pro-
portion of about10%.
e survey questionnaire was developed by
researchers from Utrecht and Addis Ababa University
based on standardized questionnaires which were
previously used in east Africa (Ohayo-Mitoko, 1997;
Mekonnen and Agonafer, 2002). For the purpose of
the described study, the questionnaire was translated
to Amharic (the national language of Ethiopia) and
back translated to English to check its consistency and
piloted in 32 farmworkers (21 males and 11 females),
whose answers were included in the nalstudy.
e selected study subjects were interviewed by
two trained data collectors using a structured open-
ended and close-ended questionnaire. In case of close-
ended questions in addition to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ options
all other options were mentioned depending on the
question, e.g. for the knowledge-related question of
‘who provided the training?’ all answering options of
Agricultural extension service’, ‘Local cooperatives ‘,
‘Ethiopian horticultural association’, ‘Health extension
service’, ‘e employer farm’ and ‘Any other(specify)’
were provided.
e questionnaire has ve sections to gather infor-
mation on sociodemographic factors, pesticide-related
P and pesticide use and intensity: (i) e sociode-
mographic part consisted of ve questions which were
both open-ended and close-ended, e.g. what is highest
educational level you have aained?, (ii) e pesticide
use and intensity-related part comprised eight ques-
tions which were both open-ended and close-ended,
e.g. How many (kg+l) of pesticides do you use per a
spraying day? (iii) e pesticide-related knowledge
part consisted of six all close-ended questions, e.g.
Have you aained any chemical pesticide-related
training, (iv) e pesticide-related aitude part con-
sisted of ve questions which were all close-ended,
e.g. Where do you store pesticide or pesticide le-
overs?, (v) e pesticide-related practices part con-
sisted out of four questions which were also all closed
ended questions, e.g. Do you usually take a bath aer
pesticide-relatedwork?
Since the activities mentioned under the pesti-
cide-related aitude part of the questionnaire and a
question related to measurement of pesticide in pes-
ticide-related practice part involve direct contact with
pesticides those parts were only administered to pes-
ticide applicators in case of SSIF (n=171). In LSOF
and LSGH due to the specic tasks given to pesticide
applicators (only pesticide mixing and spraying), they
were not interviewed on all aspects of the pesticide-
related aitudes and a question from pesticide-related
practices part of the questionnaire (e.g. pesticide
label reading, pesticide storage and how to measure
pesticides). In these cases, responses were obtained
from other farm workers (e.g. storekeeper) and farm
managers who were primarily responsible for activi-
ties mentioned under this part of the questionnaire
resulting in information to be summarized at the farm-
ing system level. All other pesticide knowledge and
practice-related information was collected from both
applicators and re-entry workers working in all of the
three farming systems.
e list of used pesticides and an estimate of the
total pesticide use in kilograms (kg) + litre (l) per hec-
tare per year (p.h.p.y) were based on records kept at
the LSOF and LSGH. Since farmers of SSIF do not
formally keep pesticide use record, information about
intensively used pesticides, and total pesticide usage
was based on verbal responses obtained from indi-
vidual farmers and farm workers. In order to estimate
annual pesticide use the following algorithm wasused:
Total pesticide use (kg+l) p.h.p.y = average pes-
ticide active ingredient use per spray (kg ± l) × fre-
quency of spraying per month × spraying months per
crop season × crop seasons per year/hectares of land
cultivated
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DATA ANALYSIS
e Questionnaire data were entered using Epi
Data version 3 and analyzed using Stata SE/11.0.
Descriptive statistics included arithmetic mean (AM)
and standard deviation (SD) for continuous variables
and frequency and percentile values for categorical
variables in order to compare across farming systems
and between exposure groups (applicators versus re-
entry workers).
RESULTS
Selected sociodemographic variables of the surveyed
population are shown in Table1. Aslightly higher pro-
portion of the total study population was male (54%)
with all of the applicators (100%) being male. In the
LSGH, the majority of the individuals were female
(55%). Most of the surveyed population (52%) had
no or only primary level (grades 1–6) of formal edu-
cation. ey were relatively young with a mean age of
27 ± 7years. Similar educational and age distributions
were observed in all farming systems and exposure
groups. e average duration of employment of the
farm workers was 4 ± 4years, but was somewhat longer
among individuals working in LSOF farms (5 ± 6).
Organophosphates were the most intensively used
class of pesticides (24%) in all three-farming systems.
Organophosphates were used relatively intensively in
LSOF (30%) and SSIF (27%) but less in LSGH (8%).
Contemporary usage of organochloride pesticides
such as dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane (DDT)
and Endosulfan were indicated in SSIF. DDT and
Endosulfan were reported to be used by, respectively,
25 and 94% of the SSIF farmers within the 12months
period prior to the interview and by 87 and 98% of
the SSIF workers since their involvement in pesticide
application work, respectively (data not shown).
Modern methods of non-chemical based meth-
ods of pest control were used mostly in LSGH and
included bio-pesticides (Trichoderma, Bacillus subtilis,
and Metarizium) and predators (Phytosiles-subtiles).
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices were
also in progress in these farms. In LSOF, Neem (biope-
sticide) and manual weeding (cultural method) were
used, whereas in SSIF only manual weeding was used
as an alternative for chemical pesticides.
e average annual pesticide use per hectare in the
three surveyed farming systems was 251 (kg + l) p.h.p.y
of active ingredients (Table2). Pesticide use in terms
of intensity was the highest in LSGH (623 (kg + l)
p.h.p.y), followed by SSIF (82 (kg+l) p.h.p.y) and was
lowest in LSOF (47 (kg + l) p.h.p.y).
Only 15% of the farmers and farm workers had
received formal training in pesticide hazards. Aaining
formal training was more common in LSGH farms
(35%) than in the other farming systems. Formal
training was also more common among applica-
tors (27%) than among re-entry workers (5%). If we
stratify the re-entry workers by gender, none of the
275 females was trained on pesticide hazards (data
not shown). e main training provider (69% of all
trainings) was the Ethiopian Horticultural Producer
and Exporters Association (EHPEA), followed by the
employer (19%) and farmers union (11%). No train-
ing was given by the health extensions system.
With regard to knowledge of alternatives to chemi-
cal pesticides, only 31% of the respondents mentioned
at least one of the alternatives with most of the farm-
ers (98%) mentioning manual weeding as an alterna-
tive followed by bio-pesticides (10%) and Integrated
Pesticide Management (IPM) (8%). None of the
farmers or farm workers in the surveyed farming sys-
tems mentioned organic farming as an alternative.
Modern methods of alternatives to chemical pesti-
cides were mentioned more frequently in LSGH farms
and among applicators than in other farming systems
and re-entry workers (Table3).
Only 27% of the surveyed farmers and farm work-
ers in SSIF usually read the pesticide label; only 16%
kept their pesticides/le overs in a separate agricul-
tural equipment location or other locked storage;
most of them either throw (75%) or bury (16%)
empty pesticide containers around the farming eld.
Most of the SSIF applicators (85%) get their pesticide
supplies from private small shops and none of them
used scaled measuring equipment (Tables 4 and 5)
but LSOF farms either get their supplies from local
importers or import pesticides by themselves. In case
of the LSGH, special import of chemical pesticides
is possible without the formal Ethiopian registration
process but with knowledge of the Ethiopian Ministry
of Agriculture.
A similar routine procedure is followed in both
LSGH and LSOF with reference to pesticide-related
handling and management aitude and practices.
Before each pesticide mixing/spraying activity,
based on prescriptions by a crop protection expert, a
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Table1. Sociodemographic characteristic of the study population
Variables Total  
(n=601)
LSOF  
(n=134)
SSIF  
(n=258)
LSGH  
(n=209)
Applicators 
(n=256)
Re-entry 
workers 
(n=345)
N%N%N%N%N%N%
Sex
Male 326 54 62 46 171 66 93 45 256 100 70 20
Female 275 46 72 54 87 34 116 55 275 80
Educational level
No formal education 37 6 9 7 17 7 11 5 5 2 32 9
Grades 1–6 278 46 53 40 133 51 91 44 113 44.1 165 48
Grades 7 and 8 159 27 47 35 66 26 46 22 80 31.2 79 23
Grades 9–12 121 20 24 18 42 16 55 26 57 22.3 64 19
Diploma 6 1 — — 6 3 1 0.4 5 1
Degree — —
AM SD AM SD AM SD AM SD AM SD AM SD
Age (years) 27 7 27 7 27 7 28 7 27 6 28 7
Monthly income (in Ethiopian birr) 1029 577 683 251 1375 685 825 268 1420 664 740 237
Duration of work (years) 4 4 5 6 5 3 4 2 4 2 5 4
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Table2. Chemical pesticide use in surveyed farms
LSGH SSIF LSOF
Common name Chemical class WHO Typ e Common name Chemical class WHO Type Common name Chemical class WHO Ty pe
1. iamethoxam Neonicotinoid NL IProfenofos Organophosphate II IDiazinon Organophosphate II I
2. Imidacloprid Neonicotinoid II IMancozeb Dithiocarbamate U FGlyphosate Posponoglycine III H
3. Deltamethrin Pyrethroid II ILambda-
cyhalthrin
Pyrethroid II IEndosulfan Organochloride II I
4. Abamectin Bio-origin NL IEndosulfan Organochloride II IMancozeb Dithiocarbamate U F
5. Spinosad Bio-origin III IDimethoate Organophosphate II ISulfur Inorganic III F
6. Fosetyl
Aluminium
Organophosphate U FDDT Organochloride II ISpinosad Bio-origin III I
7. Boscalid Carboxamide U FMetalaxyl Phenyl amide II FCarbosulfan Carbamate II I
8. Metalaxyl Phenyl amide II FChlorpyrifos Organophosphate II IChlorpyrifos Organophosphate II I
9. Chlorothalonil Chloronitrile U FTriadimefon Triazole II FMancozeb +
Metalaxyl
Dithiocarbamate +
Phenyl amide
U + II F
10. Carbendazim Benzimidazole U FMancozeb +
Metalaxyl
Dithiocarbamate +
phenylamide
U + II FProfenofos Organophosphate II I
11. Propamocarb
hydrochloride
Carbamate UFCymoxanil +
Copperoxichloride
Cyano acetamide
oxime+ inorganic
II + II F
12. Iprodione Dicarboximide III F
Pesticide use intensity in large-scale closed farms Pesticide use intensity in SSIF Pesticide use intensity in LSOF
623kg+l year−1 hectare−1 82kg+l year−1 hectare−1 47kg+l year−1 hectare−1
NL=not listed; WHO=World health organization acute toxicity hazard class (WHO, 2008), II=moderately hazardous, III=slightly hazardous, U=unlikely to present acute hazard.
Classication by target organism I=Insecticides F= Fungicides H=herbicides.
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Table3. Pesticide-related knowledge of the surveyed population by farming system and exposure type
Variables Total  
(n=601)
LSGH  
(n=209)
SSIF  
(n=258)
LSOF  
(n=134)
Applicators 
(n=256)
Re-entry 
workers 
(n=345)
N%N%N%N%N%N%
1. inking pesticides may aect health 
(n=601)
573 95 207 99 232 90 134 100 244 95 329 95
2. Presumed main pesticide exposure route (n=601)
I do not know 52 9 4 2 40 16 8 6 22 9 30 9
Inhalation 349 58 129 62 143 55 77 58 151 59 198 57
Dermal 92 15 37 18 32 12 23 17 43 17 49 14
Oral 94 16 32 15 39 15 23 17 33 13 61 18
Eye 14 2 7 3 4 2 3 2 7 2 7 2
3. Aaining training (n=601) 87 15 73 35 11 4 3 2 70 27 17 5
4. Training providing institution (n=85)
Agricultural extension service 1 1 1 10 1 2
Farmers union 9 11 9 90 9 13
Horticultural association 59 69 59 82 48 70 11 65
Health extension services
e employer farm 16 19 13 18 3 100 10 15 6 35
5. Respondents who  
mentioned at least one  
alternative to chemical  
pesticides (n=601) 183 31 64 31 93 36 26 19 86 34 97 28
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pesticide will be selected from the store. Usually there
is consultation of pesticide labels followed by measur-
ing of the pesticides using appropriate scaled measur-
ing equipment by mostly the storekeepers.
In LSGH and LSOF, pesticides are stored in a sepa-
rate pesticide storage facility. Pesticide containers are
usually collected and stored at one place without any
rinsing or crushing (Fig.2) and buried within the farm
premises in the case of LSOF. In LSGH farms, empty
pesticide containers are collected, rinsed, crushed and
incinerated under controlled environmental condi-
tions inside a properly designed incinerator.
Of the farmers and farm workers surveyed, only
(10%) used full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
[i.e. overall, safety shoes, rubber gloves, goggles, and
respirator for applicators and rubber gloves, apron,
and safety shoes for re-entry workers (Table5)]. In
LSGH these totaled 26% of the workers, but 5% in
LSOF and none in case of SSIF (Fig.3). In contrast,
13 and 7% of the re-entry and applications workers
use full PPE, respectively. None of the applicators and
the re-entry workers (who were all females) in sur-
veyed SSIF farms used full PPE (data not shown). Of
the farmers and farmworkers, respectively, 84 and 32%
washed their hands and took a bath or shower aer
work. ese hygienic practices were observed more
frequently among applicators than among re-entry
workers (91 and 44% versus 78 and 23%) (Table5).
DISCUSSION
In our study, a relatively low level of pesticide-related
P in all surveyed farming systems and exposure
groups were observed. Use of organochlorides (DDT
and Endosulfan) on vegetables albeit illegal was
reported in SSIF. Issues of poor aainment of formal
pesticide-related training (especially among re-entry
workers), poor pesticide management, disposal, and
limited use of complete PPEs were found in all three
surveys farming systems but were particularly poor in
SSIF. ough pesticide management and disposal is
exemplary in the LSGH, the empty pesticide compila-
tion and burial practices in the LSOF remain hazard-
ous practices.
is study showed an increase in pesticide use,
as compared to previous estimates in dierent farm-
ing systems in horticultural farms in Ethiopia. Which
appeared to be 13-fold in case for SSIF, from 4 to 8 (kg
+ l) /ha−1 year−1 in 2008 (Deribe, 2008) and a 6-fold
Variables Total  
(n=601)
LSGH  
(n=209)
SSIF  
(n=258)
LSOF  
(n=134)
Applicators 
(n=256)
Re-entry 
workers 
(n=345)
N%N%N%N%N%N%
6. Mentioned alternatives to chemical pesticide (n=183)
Biopesticides 19 10 17 27 1 1 1 4 12 14 7 7
Organic farming
Integrated pesticide management 15 8 15 23 8 9 7 7
Cultural methods 179 98 60 94 93 100 26 100 84 98 95 98
Table3.  Continued
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increase in the case of LSOF from 8(kg + l) ha−1 year−1
in 2006 (Environmental and Social Assessments
International, 2006). Even though no previous esti-
mates of pesticide use are available for the LSGH, the
present study indicated very high use of pesticides in
terms of intensity (623 (kg + l) ha−1 year−1 in LSGH
as compared to other farming systems. e increased
use of pesticides in combination with the general poor
pesticide-related handling and management practices
found in this study could potentially lead to serious
occupational and environmentalrisks.
Agricultural use of DDT was reported in SSIF.
is pesticide is banned for agricultural use under the
Stockholm convention of persistent organic chemicals
Table4. Pesticide-related aitudes in surveyed applicators in small-scale farmers and farm workers 
(n=171a)
Study variables N%
1. Pesticide label reading (n=171) 46 27
2. Main reason for not usually reading the level (n=125)
Not important 56 45
Another language 2 2
Once Iread 45 36
No time to read 22 17
3. Storage of pesticides/pesticide leovers (n=171)
I do not store 1 1
Separate agricultural equipment store 27 16
Bush around the home 10 6
Under the bed 66 38
Inside a kitchen 1 1
Hanging in the ceiling/wall 39 22
Locked box 27 16
4. Empty container management (n=171)
row it away in the farm vicinity 128 75
Use for domestic purpose 2 1
Bury 28 16
Burnt 8 5
Collect and sold 5 3
5. Pesticide source for agricultural use (n=171)
Public 24 14
Private small shops 145 85
Private importer 2 1
Self-import
ae total number is smaller here because the relevant information was collected at a farm level in other farming systems.
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Table5. Pesticide-related practices in surveyed population by farm and exposure type
Variables Total  
(n=601)
LSGH  
(n=209)
SSIF  
(n=258)
LSOF  
(n=134)
Applicators 
(n=256)
Re-entry  
workers 
(n=345)
N%N%N%N%N%N%
1. Complete use of PPE (n=601) 62 10 55 26 _ 7 5 18 7 44 13
Apron 144 24 117 56 9 4 18 13 11 4 133 39
Safety shoes 143 24 103 49 16 6 24 18 92 64 51 15
Rubber gloves 191 32 168 80 1 0.4 22 16 67 26 124 36
Goggles 32 5 21 10 11 8 24 9 8 2
Overall 108 18 77 37 31 23 80 31 28 8
Respirator 59 10 48 23 11 8 50 20 9 3
Handkerchiefs 2 4 23 9 23 9
Head cover 27 5 18 7 9 7 18 7 9 3
2. Main reason for not using complete PPE (n=539)
Not important 105 19 5 3.2 71 28 29 23 42 18 63 21
Too expensive 26 5 2 1.3 23 9 1 1 18 7 8 3
Not provided 200 37 111 72.1 26 10 63 50 42 18 158 52
Uncomfortable 62 12 33 21.4 13 5 16 12 24 10 38 13
Ignorance/no much aention 146 27 3 2 125 48 18 14 112 47 34 11
3. Protective hygienic measures
Wash hand aer work (n=601) 502 84 162 77 220 85 120 90 233 91 269 78
Bath aer work (n=601) 190 32 68 32 64 25 58 43 112 44 78 23
Use of chemical pesticides in Ethiopia   •  Page 11 of 16 AQ1
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and signed by Ethiopia. Use of DDT is only allowed
in indoor residual spraying for malaria control (Biscoe
etal., 2005) but farmers in this study reported use on
food crops. e present study therefore upholds the
continuous environmental and occupational risk of
DDT in Ethiopia. In addition, the extensive use of
Endosulfan on horticultural food crops in SSIF is wor-
risome since it is not registered for use on vegetables
and can only be restrictively used on for instance cot-
ton inLSOF.
Generally, receiving pesticide-related training
is very low in surveyed farmers and farm workers
except among a few farm workers, who were applica-
tors and mostly employed by the LSGH. is is due
to an availability of a relatively vigilant institution like
the Ethiopian Horticultural Producer and Exporters
Association (EHPEA) that provides training to
farm workers working in its members’ green houses.
However, in the case of LSOF there is no permanent
training provision team/sta. In addition, in the case
of SSIF, lile aention by the local agricultural exten-
sion and farmers cooperatives is given to train farm-
ers on safe use of pesticide (except guiding them on
agronomic practices) and no aention at all by local
health extension service or other institutions like the
local labor and social aair or environmental oce.
ese are likely reasons for the very low level of pesti-
cide-related training in those farming systems. Similar
studies in developing countries have indicated compa-
rable poor aendance of pesticide-related trainings;
for instance only 16% of surveyed female farmers in
South Africa aained any formal training (Naidoo
etal., 2010) and almost all (98%) of the respondents
of a survey in Egypt indicated they did not receive
any training (Ibitayo, 2006). Aendance of pesticide-
related hazard training is vital to be acquainted with
safe use of pesticides such as pesticide label reading,
right disposal of empty pesticide containers, use of
complete and appropriate personal protection and
hygienic practices aer work. erefore, absence/
low level of training aendance in this survey suggests
a high potential for occupational and environmental
risks tooccur.
In our study, small proportion of farmers and farm
workers knew at least one of the modern methods
of non-chemical pest control. Similar results were
reported for Egypt where 59 and 20% of the respond-
ents indicated they were ‘not sure’ and ‘do not believe’
Variables Total  
(n=601)
LSGH  
(n=209)
SSIF  
(n=258)
LSOF  
(n=134)
Applicators 
(n=256)
Re-entry  
workers 
(n=345)
N%N%N%N%N%N%
4. How to measure pesticides (n=171a)
Properly scaled equipment
Household equipment 40 23
Approximation 53 31
Pesticide container cap 78 46
ae total number is smaller here because the relevant information was collected at individual levels only from small scale applicators but at a farm level in other farming systems.
Table5.  Continued
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in alternatives to chemical pesticide (Ibitayo, 2006)
and 84% did not see an alternative for chemical pesti-
cide use (Stadlinger etal., 2011).
Only about a quarter of the SSIF workers usually
read the pesticide label and none of them use scaled
measuring equipment. Reading the label and using
scaled equipment are important as to adhere to the rec-
ommended dose of pesticides, which can result in very
high exposures if used over the recommended amount
or might result in pesticide resistance if used under the
recommended utilization. Other studies showed similar
gures with only 2 and 18% of the surveyed small-scale
farmers in Tanzania and South Africa usually reading
pesticide levels (Naidoo etal., 2010; Ngowi, 2003).
Poor pesticide-related management (in small-scale
farms) and disposal (in small scale and LSOF) were
Figure2 Disposal of discarded empty pesticide containers collected in one of the large scale open farms.
Figure3 Pesticide mixing practices in small scale irrigated areas.
Use of chemical pesticides in Ethiopia   •  Page 13 of 16 AQ1
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seen in this study. Similar results of improper disposal
of pesticide containers (burning, burying, or throw-
ing) were reported in Egyptian farmers (Ibitayo,
2006). In addition, a study in China reported, dis-
carding pesticide containers in the environment (soil
or water) or with other trash by a majority (52%) of
the farmers (Zhang and Lu, 2007). Improper manage-
ment of pesticides was reported in a study in Kenya
where more than half of the interviewed farmers stored
pesticides in places like under the bed, in the bush or
in the latrine (Ohayo-Mitoko, 1997). Also a study in
Tanzania reported storage of pesticides with in resi-
dential home, oen in rooms used by a number of fam-
ily members by 81% of the respondents (Lekei etal.,
2014). Another study from China reported improper
storage of pesticides in bedrooms, granary, and kitch-
ens (Zhang and Lu, 2007). e overall improper pes-
ticide management and disposal of empty containers
can pose an environmental risk in surveyed farming
areas and health risks to the general population.
ough most of the pesticides used by the sur-
veyed greenhouse farms (Table2) are still registered
for use in European Union, the continued importation
of pesticides by all LSGH in Ethiopia without formal
registration process that includes occupational and
environmental risk assessment may have its own nega-
tive impact on health of the work force and environ-
mental sustainability. e majority of the applicators
in SSIF get pesticide supplies from private small shops,
in which only 20% the retailers had a formal education
about pesticides (Belay et al., 2014). Consequently,
those retailers are not able to properly advice farmers
on proper use, management, and disposal which may
lead to improper use and handling of pesticides result-
ing in increased occupational and environmentalrisks.
Only a small proportion of the surveyed farmers
and farm workers, pesticide applicators, and re-entry
workers utilized full PPE. Except for the use of some
sort of head covering and handkerchiefs, there was no
complete PPE use by any of applicators in SSIF, mostly
exposing their face, hands, palms and their ngers
(Fig.3). Most of the pesticide applicators employing
some kind of PPE do not usually use PPE like eye gog-
gles (5%) and respirators (10%). Anecdotally and wit-
nessed in the eld even if personal protection was used
it was oen removed minutes aer the start of appli-
cation of pesticides, since applicators were complain-
ing about not being able to see (goggles) or breathe
properly (respirator). Moreover it was observed that
most of the applicators using some kind of personal
protection were not using it while mixing/loading con-
centrated pesticides which are known to carry a higher
risk of exposure than diluted pesticides (Macfarlane
et al., 2013). Previous surveys in LSOF in Ethiopia
indicated personal protection was not always provided
and not always t for use (Mekonnen and Agonafer,
2002). Other studies in developing countries report
similar results, no personal protection use by more
than half of the farmers during mixing or application of
pesticides in Tanzania (Stadlinger et al., 2011). Using
personal protection was also not common practice
during pesticide application in Brazil (Recena et al.,
2006). In addition, a study in Pakistan indicated no use
of basic protective equipment during pesticide han-
dling and application (Khan etal., 2010). In this study,
the absence of personal protection use by most farm
workers and discontinued usage of it while performing
pesticide-related tasks suggest that assumed protec-
tion factors in the regulatory framework do not hold in
practice and could lead to potential healthrisks.
Only a third of farmers and farm workers usually
took a bath/shower aer work, and less than half of
the pesticide applicators usually took a bath/shower
aer pesticide spraying. Mekonnen et al. (2002)
reported similar results in which many of the pesticide
applicators did not take a shower regularly aer work
in LSOF in Ethiopia. During our eld survey, it was
observed that there was a general absence of washing
facilities for those farm workers in the SSIF and LSOF,
so in order to take a shower farmers and farm workers
had to go back to their home or have to use the water
from the irrigation schemes or nearby lake. Washing
facilities were however present in the LSGH farms
even though most farm workers, particularly re-entry
workers, were not using them. e poor pesticide-
related hygienic practice in this survey could lead to
continued pesticide exposure aer work resulting in
potential increased health risks.
CONCLUSIONS
is systematic survey has indicated a signicant
increase in use of chemical pesticides in the last dec-
ade in farming systems in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, the
aitudes and practices among farmers and farm work-
ers in the three farming systems surveyed in Ethiopia
are poor. e most likely reasons for this unsafe use
Page 14 of 16 Use of chemical pesticides in Ethiopia
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of pesticides of the surveyed population were: lack of
formal training on pesticide-related occupational and
environmental hazards; the absence of a responsible
institution particularly in SSIF and LSOF for train-
ing provision; and the continued illegitimate usages
of organochlorides particularly DDT on food crops in
SSIF. Altogether, the data may point towards the pos-
sibility for signicant occupational and environmental
risks related to the commercial use of pesticides. e
present situation needs urgent collaborative actions
in order to expand some of the important armative
actions of good agricultural practice that have been
initiated by LSGH owners (Ethiopian Horticultural
Producer and Exporters Association) to small scale
and LSOF including provision of formal training to
all farmers and farm workers. Training should be given
not only to pesticide applicators but also to re-entry
workers particularly female once. In addition, con-
textual enforcement of the available occupational and
environmental proclamations and the development
of Integrated Pesticide Management (IPM) practices
should be taught. ose suggested measures must be
implemented in ways that can address institutional dif-
ferences in various farming systems existing at present
in Ethiopia.
DECLARATION
Funding of this project was provided by Pesticide Risk
Reduction, Ethiopia. e authors declare no conict of inter-
est relating to the material presented in this article. Its contents,
including any opinion expresses, are solely those of the authors.
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The Ethiopian Rift Valley (ERV) lakes region is an agricultural area in Ethiopia with in- tense year-round irrigated framing where widespread legal and illegal pesticide use was documented. The aim of the study is to assess tissue concentration of organochlorine pes- ticides (OCPs) in fillets of fives species of fish from Lake Ziway, an ERV lake. The influ- ence of trophic position and fish size on accumulation of OCPs was investigated. Sam- ple preparation for the analysis of OCPs was done following the QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe) method and OCPs were analyzed using gas chro- matography and compound specification was made using mass spectrometry. Dichloro- diphenyl-trichloroethanes (DDTs) were dominant among investigated OCPs. 4,4’-dichloro- diphenyl-dichloro-ethylene (p,p’-DDE) was the predominant DDT metabolite constituting about 99.2% of total DDTs. Historic DDT input was suggested as the source of current DDT contamination dominated by p,p’-DDE. Geometric mean value of p,p’-DDE varied from 1.07 to 3.64 ng g –1 ww. Species variation in accumulation of p,p’-DDE was found that could re- sult from differences in trophic level, lipid content, age, specific habitat, and feeding habit. Carassius carassius occupying a higher trophic position and with relative high lipid content had the highest p,p’-DDE levels. Positive associations between log-transformed p,p’-DDE, and total length were found for C. carassius and Cyprinus carpio. p,p’-DDE was biomagnified through the local food web. Generally, the levels of DDT in the present study are lower than levels reported from lake Ziway in earlier studies. The present findings may contribute contemporary OCP contamination data in investigated fish species.
... Previous studies on flower farms in Ethiopia indicated the efficient use of personal protective equipment while workers are on duty. Protective pieces of equipment used by sprayers in flower farms include half-face masks, gloves, boots and overall clothes [4,5,27]. The use of personal protective equipment might have decreased pesticide exposure and any potential adverse health effects. ...
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Background: Pesticide use in Ethiopia has become a common practice in which large-scale flower farms are the main consumers. Workers on flower farms might be exposed to pesticides while spraying or while performing other tasks related to pesticide use and management. It is unclear whether working as a flower farm sprayer is associated with respiratory health problems. Objective: The objective of this study was to compare respiratory symptoms and lung function indices between pesticide sprayers and non-spraying workers. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 15 flower farms, involving all-male sprayers as the pesticide-exposed group and all other male workers as a control group. Data were collected using a standard questionnaire for respiratory symptoms developed by the British Medical Research Council and the American Thoracic Society. Lung function tests were performed to determine forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume at one second (FEV1), mid 50 expiratory flow, and the ratio of FEV1 to FVC. Chi-squared tests and Poisson regression analyses were used to compare respiratory symptoms between the two working groups. General linear regression models were used to compare lung function test indices between spraying and non-spraying working groups. The significance level was set to 0.05. Results: A total of 285 male workers participated (152 sprayers and 133 non-spraying workers). The mean age of the workers was 25 years for sprayers and 24 years for non-sprayers. The proportions of cough, cough with sputum, breathlessness, and wheezing were similar in the two groups, while chest tightness was significantly high in the non-spraying group. Sprayers had significantly higher FVC and FEV1 than the non-spraying group. Conclusions: Respiratory symptoms were not different between the sprayers and non-spraying workers except that the non-spraying workers had increased chest tightness. FVC and FEV1 were significantly higher among sprayers relative to non-sprayers. The results must be interpreted with caution, as the sprayers used respiratory protective equipment, which probably reduced their exposure to the pesticides. Also, the workers were young, and a healthy worker effect might be present among the sprayers.
... However, the insect is fast developing resistance to individual chemicals [13] that forces farmers to try a combination of several types of inappropriate chemicals to improve the control. Continuous application and flooding of huge doses of inappropriate chemicals on the cropland has been aggravating environmental pollution, food contamination, and human health problems [14]. Therefore, this multiple problem is calling for environmentally friendly pest management alternatives. ...
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... One-third of global crops are spoiled during harvesting, growth, and stowing without pesticides (Parham and Rahbar, 2010). Some pesticides in combined form have specific harmful effects on living organisms such as cancer and endocrine disorders (Sousa et al., 2020), neurological diseases, immune system destruction, ocular or endocrine disruption, and dermal disorders (Negatu et al., 2016). In 1970, organophosphate pesticides were introduced in the market, and they are now the largest class of pesticide. ...
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... These suggest that farmers in the study area were exposed to pesticide chemicals due to not using complete PPE since they cannot afford the price and are not easily available on market. [33][34][35] On the other hand, farmers with good knowledge were 1.79 times more likely to be exposed to skin irritation (AOR = 1.79; 95% CI: 1.0-3.17) than those with poor knowledge and skin contact (AOR = 0.37; 95% CI: 0.15-0.91). ...
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Pesticides in Tanzania are extensively used for pest control in agriculture. Their usage and unsafe handling practices may potentially result in high farmer exposures and adverse health effects.The aim of this study was to describe farmers' pesticide exposure profile, knowledge about pesticide hazards, experience of previous poisoning, hazardous practices that may lead to Acute Pesticide Poisoning (APP) and the extent to which APP is reported. The study involved 121 head- of-household respondents from Arumeru district in Arusha region. Data collection involved administration of a standardised questionnaire to farmers and documentation of storage practices. Unsafe pesticide handling practices were assessed through observation of pesticide storage, conditions of personal protective equipment (PPE) and through self-reports of pesticide disposal and equipment calibration. Past lifetime pesticide poisoning was reported by 93% of farmers. The agents reported as responsible for poisoning were Organophosphates (42%) and WHO Class II agents (77.6%).Storage of pesticides in the home was reported by 79% of farmers. Respondents with higher education levels were significantly less likely to store pesticides in their home (PRR High/Low = 0.3; 95%CI = 0.1-0.7) and more likely to practice calibration of spray equipment (PRR High/Low = 1.2; 95%CI = 1.03-1.4). However, knowledge of routes of exposure was not associated with safety practices particularly for disposal, equipment wash area, storage and use of PPE . The majority of farmers experiencing APP in the past (79%) did not attend hospital and of the 23 farmers who did so in the preceding year, records could be traced for only 22% of these cases. The study found a high potential for pesticide exposure in the selected community in rural Tanzania, a high frequency of self-reported APP and poor recording in hospital records. Farmers' knowledge levels appeared to be unrelated to their risk. Rather than simply focusing on knowledge-based strategies, comprehensive interventions are needed to reduce both exposure and health risks, including training, improvements in labeling, measures to reduce cost barriers to the adoption of safe behaviours, , promotion of control measures other than PPE and support for Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
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In an interview study conducted among smallholder rice farmers in Rufiji, Tanzania coastal mainland, and in Cheju, Zanzibar, farmer’s pesticide use and risk awareness were assessed. The farmers generally lacked knowledge or possibilities to manage the pesticides as prescribed by the manufacturers. Few farmers knew what kind of pesticides they were using and had never seen the original packages, as pesticides were usually sold per weight or already diluted without labeling. Protective equipment was rarely used since they were not aware of risks associated with pesticides or did not know where to purchase protective gear. Only half of the farmers were aware of pesticides’ health hazards and few associated pesticides with environmental problems. The pesticide use was relatively low, but based on farmers’ pesticide handling and application practices, health risks were a major concern. Most farmers did not believe in successful rice cultivation without using pesticides to control pests. However, estimated yields did not differ between pesticide users or farmers using conventional methods or neem tree extract. To avoid negative effects on human health and the environment, the farmers need basic education and better assistance in their farming practices and pesticide management. KeywordsHuman health–Risk awareness–Zanzibar–Rufiji
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