Assessment of farmers on their knowledge regarding pesticide usage and
Muhammad Mubushar, Fahad O. Aldosari
, Mirza B. Baig, Bader M. Alotaibi, Abdul Qader Khan
Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Society, College of Food and Agriculture Sciences, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2460, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
Received 9 November 2018
Revised 7 January 2019
Accepted 5 March 2019
Available online 6 March 2019
Farmers level of knowledge
Safe pesticide usage
Purpose: Inappropriate application of pesticides is quite common in the study area, causing health issues
and in some cases fatalities. The intent of the current study is to gauge the farmers’ level of knowledge on
the safe usage of pesticides and biosafety to keep the famers healthy through the focused extension pro-
Methodology: The study is carried out in 41 union councils of Tehsil Sahiwal, District Sahiwal, Punjab,
Pakistan. Data are collected through a cluster sampling technique by conducting face-to-face interviews.
Statistical analysis is used to determine relationships and interpret them.
Results: The ﬁndings show that the majority of farmers (87.2%) earn their livelihoods from farming and
2.1% are traders. More than half of the respondents (51.8%) own small land-holdings with an area of 4–
8 ha, with only 16.4% having a land area of more than 12 ha. The results also reveal that the majority of
respondents obtain information from private agents and only about one third (34.4%) respondents get
information on the safe usage of pesticides from the Department of Agriculture (Extension). The internet
has emerged as a fast and reliable source of information in the new paradigm; however, only 14.4% of the
respondents take advantage of this economical and fast information tool/medium. The ﬁndings also
reveal that the farmers employ unhealthy and poor practices by not following the recommendations
regarding the safe usage of pesticides. The study also reveals that more than half of the farmers
(54.4%) use unsafe storage practices on their farms, and about 48.2% do not follow the instructions.
Conclusions: Inappropriate application of pesticides can have negative effects on human health and the
adoption safety measures are necessary to avoid the harmful effects of pesticides. Due to high illiteracy
in the area, farmers mainly seek advice of neighboring farmers, having ignorance on the biosafety issues.
Variables like education level, land ownership, total land size and the trainings on safe pesticide usage
signiﬁcantly inﬂuence the knowledge level of farmers on the safe usage of pesticides.
Recommendations: Farmers do not follow the recommendations of the extension department or the
instructions printed on pesticide bottles/containers, therefore educational (formal and informal) and
training programs are necessary on the safe pesticide usage to upgrade their skills and expertise on safe
usage of pesticides and the importance of biosafety.
Ó2019 Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of King Saud University. This is an open access
article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
The economy of Pakistan primarily depends on agriculture; it
contributes about 19.8% to the gross domestic product and 42.5%
of rural people are associated with agriculture (GOP, 2015–16).
Worldwide, about 1.8 billion people are engaged in agriculture
and use pesticides to control insects, pests, and diseases to ensure
healthy crops and food security (Grube et al., 2011). Synthetic and
naturally occurring chemical (plant exudates) pesticides aid in
controlling insect pests and eradicating weeds that compete with
ﬁeld crops (Khan et al., 2010). There are 1500 types of chemicals
used as pesticides worldwide, and owing to their chemical nature,
pesticides can cause serious environmental and health problems
(Bolognesi and Merlo, 2011). In Pakistan, 108 types of insecticide,
39 kinds of herbicide, 30 types of fungicide, 6 types of rodenticide,
and 5 types of acaricide are used on different crops (Anwar et al.,
1319-562X/Ó2019 Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of King Saud University.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
E-mail address: email@example.com (F.O. Aldosari).
Peer review under responsibility of King Saud University.
Production and hosting by Elsevier
Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences
journal homepage: www.sciencedirect.com
2011; Zia et al., 2009). It is estimated that global expenditure on
pesticides increased signiﬁcantly from 2008 to 2012. In 2008–
2012, the total expenditure on pesticides was about $56 billion
Around 2 million tons of pesticides are used yearly in agricul-
ture production, out of which about 69% is used in Europe and
the US alone (Abhilash and Singh, 2009). Human exposure to pes-
ticides results in a number of harmful effects depending on the
type of pesticide and duration of exposure. The most common
signs of exposure are headaches, excessive salivation, lacrimation,
nausea, diarrhea, respiratory depression, seizures, and loss of con-
sciousness (Medline Plus, 2015; PSEP, 2015). Similarly, research
conducted by Kachaiyaphum et al. (2010) showed that farmers
were experiencing different kinds of health problem due to the
use of pesticides, including dizziness (38%), headaches (31%), and
nausea or vomiting (27%). Luckily, the toxic residues of pesticides
in the environment and food can be minimized by educating farm-
ers and exposing them to training on the safe usage of pesticides
(Ahmed et al., 2011; Khan et al., 2010).
However, more research on higher-order controls to reduce
pesticide exposure, understand the reasons for the poor utilization
of personal protection equipment (PPE), and identify effective
training methods is needed (MacFarlane et al., 2013). Several pre-
vious studies focused on providing education on pesticide safety
and protection standards for workers in order to mitigate health
risks; owing to their insufﬁcient knowledge of the harmful effects
of pesticide exposure, farmers and farm workers rarely adopt pre-
cautionary measures while applying pesticides (Khan, 2012; Ejaz
et al., 2004).
Pakistan, an agricultural country with various agro-ecological
zones and climates, produces a wide variety of crops; therefore,
the use of pesticides in Pakistan has increased tremendously in
the last few decades. Though food production has increased sub-
stantially due to progress in science and technology, the targets
set by the government to meet national food demand always put
pressure on farmers to increase grain production. In order to
enhance crop production, farmers have expanded the use of pesti-
cides and fertilizers to meet the government’s food sufﬁciency tar-
gets. Nowadays, farmers fully rely on pesticides for increasing
global agricultural productivity and protecting plantations from
different insects, pests, and diseases. Developing countries account
for only 20% of pesticide use at the global level; however, their
casualty rates are very high due to pesticide poisoning
(Kesavachandran et al., 2009). In developed countries, many stud-
ies have assessed farmers’ levels of knowledge of safe pesticide
usage; however, no scientiﬁc study on this subject has been con-
ducted in Central Punjab, Pakistan. Therefore, the present study
was undertaken. It is anticipated that this study, due to its
research-based ﬁndings, will help in exploring the knowledge
levels of farmers and in identifying the problems they face regard-
ing safe pesticide usage. Further, the outcomes of the study will
contribute to devising policy instruments and developing exten-
sion programs for farmers regarding safe pesticide usage that will
reduce the health risks.
2. Research methodology
This study is undertaken in the District of Sahiwal, Pakistan. The
District of is administratively divided into two municipalities: Teh-
sil Sahiwal and Tehsil Chichawatni. Each Tehsil is further adminis-
tratively divided into Union Councils (UCs). The District of Sahiwal
consists of 81 UCs and approximately 531 villages. In Tehsil Sahi-
wal, there are 52 UCs and 315 villages, with 11 UCs falling in urban
zones and 41 in rural zones.
A cluster sampling technique is used to obtain the cross-
sectional data for this study (because each UC has a speciﬁc num-
ber of villages that make clusters). One village is selected randomly
from each rural UC. Then, ﬁve farmers are interviewed from each
village. The study included 205 farmers and are interviewed to col-
lect data for the study’s purposes. Ten farmers refused to partici-
pate; therefore, incomplete questionnaires were excluded,
making the ﬁnal sample size 195 farmers.
A questionnaire was developed for this study to achieve its
objectives. The Faculty of the Departments of Agricultural Exten-
sion as well as Plant Protection reviewed the formulated question-
naire, and necessary amendments were made in light of their
comments. Initially, the questionnaire was prepared in English;
however, later it was translated into the local language (Urdu) to
avoid any problems with understanding. Before conducting the
real interviews, the questionnaire was pretested by conducting
interviews with 20 farmers in the area (who were not a part of
the study) to check its smoothness and gauge how easy it was
for the farmers to understand the questions. After receiving their
feedback, further necessary amendments were made. In order to
check the reliability and internal consistency of the pretested ques-
tionnaire, Cronbach’s alpha was calculated; a value of 0.71 was
All of the variables regarding knowledge level, sources of infor-
mation, reasons for pesticide usage, and problems related to safe
pesticide usage are clearly deﬁned and labeled for data analysis.
The demographic characteristics of the respondents are assessed
using descriptive statistics, mainly through frequency distributions
The data are coded, entered into an Excel ﬁle, and then analyzed
using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 21. A logit
regression model is employed to test the effect of the independent
variables on the variance of the dependent variables.
3. Results and discussion
3.1. Demographic characteristics of the farmers
The socioeconomic characteristics studied are the age of the
farmers, their education level, their main occupation, their annual
income from agriculture and other sources, the nature of their farm
ownership, the total land size, the land under cultivation, and their
total experience (in years) with using pesticides.
3.1.1. Age and education level of the respondents
Age and level of education are measured using well-deﬁned
ordinal scale categories. Table 1 shows that the highest percentage
of respondents (34.9%) belonged to the 30–39 age group, followed
by 29.2% in the 40–49 group and 20.5% in the 20–29 group. The
smallest number of respondents (15.4%) is in the above 50-age
Regarding education level, the majority of the respondents are
illiterate, accounting for 39.5% of the sampled population; sec-
ondary and matriculation education followed with 26.2% and
20.0%, respectively. Respondents with a higher level of education
account for only 14.4%. According to Rios-Gonzalez et al. (2013),
literate farmers have a better understanding of the effects of pesti-
cides on health and environment than illiterate ones. These results
are in accordance with Khan and Iqbal (2009), who reported that
the majority of farmers in Pakistan have a low level of education,
with only 6% having received a university education.
3.1.2. Income sources and total income of the respondents
Farming is the main occupation in Pakistan; the country’s econ-
omy is based on the agricultural sector. The majority of people are
1904 M. Mubushar et al. /Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910
associated with agriculture directly or indirectly for their liveli-
hoods. As the data in Table 1 indicate, farming is the main occupa-
tion of 87.2% of respondents; 10.8% hold government jobs in
addition to farming. The rest of the respondents (2.1%) are recog-
nized as traders, while no respondents had other professions.
Bhutto and Bazmi (2007) reported similar results: the majority of
farmers have small parcels of land, and agriculture is their subsis-
As revealed in Table 1, the annual income of about half of the
respondents (49.2%) ranges from 0.6 to 1.0 million PKR, whereas
respondents with an annual income ranging between 1.1 and
1.5 million PKR account for 26.2%. Respondents that have an
annual income of more than 1.5 million PKR make up about
16.2%, while the rest (8.2%) have an annual income of less than
0.5 million PKR per annum.
3.1.3. Land ownership and area under cultivation
The majority of respondents (58.5%) inherited their land from
their forefathers, followed by 14.9% who rent the land. Respon-
dents who purchased land for agricultural purposes account for
only 2.6%, and 24.1% of the respondents had purchased and inher-
ited land for crop cultivation.
Regarding the area under cultivation, respondents possessing
total land of 5–8 ha cultivated about half of their land (50.8%)
and those who owned an area of 9–12 ha cultivated about
16.9% of their total land. The smallest percentage of respon-
dents (15.9%) kept their land permanently and fully under cul-
tivation. Damalas and Khan (2016) indicated that the amount
of land under cultivation has a signiﬁcant effect on safe pesti-
3.1.4. Total land size and experience with pesticide use
The data presented in Table 1 reﬂect that about half of the
respondents (51.8%) owned 5–8 ha of land, followed by those
(24.6%) with a landholding of an area of 9–12 ha. The respon-
dents owning a landholding of more than 12 ha accounted for
16.4% and respondents that had less than 4 ha accounted for
The majority of the respondents (41.0%) had 11–15 years of
experience in using pesticides. Respondents with 5–10 years’ expe-
rience account for 37.9%, followed by those with experience of 16–
20 years (16.9%); 4.1% of respondents have less than 20 years’
experience in using pesticides.
3.2. Respondents’ sources of information on safe pesticide usage
Fig. 1 represents the information received by the respondents
from different sources regarding safe pesticide usage. Respondents
were asked (based on a nominal scale where Yes = 2 and No = 1)
about how they got information on the safe application of pesti-
cides among the available information sources.
The data reveal that about one third of the respondents (34.4%)
got their information on safe pesticide usage from the Department
of Agriculture, while about 65.6% do not seek such information
from this department, as indicated in Fig. 1. This might be because
many of the representatives of the Department of Agriculture focus
only on big land owners and ignore small and medium farmers.
These results are in line with Lekei et al. (2014), who found that
about 38.6% of farmers in Tanzania got their information from agri-
cultural extension ofﬁcers.
Fellow farmers also play an important role in disseminating
information to farmers. The results show that about 69.7% of the
respondents rely on information regarding safe pesticide usage
provided by their fellow farmers, as compared to 30.3% who may
not have had good relations with their neighboring farmers for
social, economic, and political reasons. Rehman et al. (2013)
reported that fellow farmers helped other farmers in selecting pes-
ticides and provided information on their usage and proper han-
dling. Similarly, Jors et al. (2014) conducted a study that
Socioeconomic characteristics of the respondents (N = 195).
Age of the respondents (Years)
20–30 30–40 40–50 > 50
Percentage (n) 20.5 (40) 34.9 (68) 29.2 (57) 15.4 (30)
Education level of the respondents
Illiterate Secondary Matriculation Higher study
Percentage (n) 39.5 (77) 26.2 (51) 20.0 (39) 14.4 (28)
Main source of earning
Farming Trader Govt. + farming Others
Percentage (n) 87.2 (1 7 0) 2.1 (4) 10.8 (21) 0.0
Income per annum of the respondents (Millions PKR)
0–0.5 0.5–1.0 1.0–1.5 > 1.5
Percentage (n) 8.2 (16) 49.2 (96) 26.2 (51) 16.4 (21)
Total land size (hectares)
0–4 4–8 8–12 >12
Percentage (n) 7.2 (14) 51.8 (1 0 1) 24.6 (48) 16.4 (32)
Respondents experience in using pesticide using (Years)
5–10 11–15 16–20 >20
Percentage (n) 37.9 (74) 41.0 (80) 16.9 (33) 4.1 (8)
Fig. 1. Percentage of farmers using different information sources.
M. Mubushar et al. /Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910 1905
evaluated the personal protection measures used to reduce pesti-
cide poisoning among small holding farmers in Bolivia through
the Farmer Field School (FFS) and the Neighbor Farmers. The ﬁnd-
ings of the study revealed that farmers were able to make improve-
ments to personal protection measures with the help of
An overall 73.8% of respondents receive information from retail-
ers, indicating their dependency on retailers when buying products
on credit, while about 26.2% of the respondents might have been
ﬁnancially better off than others might and did not rely on retailers
for information, as shown in Fig. 1. Research conducted in the past
showed that retailers had not received any training and their infor-
mation was poor concerning the harmful effects of pesticides and
their toxicities or spraying safety techniques. These results are in
agreement with Damalas and Khan (2016) and Lekei et al.
(2014), who reported that most farmers get their information on
safe pesticide usage from retailers. Zhang and Lu (2007) conducted
a survey in northern China and found that 34.5% of respondents
had received pesticide information from pesticide distributors;
about 54.43% from co-workers; 41.09% from their own experience;
and 25.79%, 16.67%, and 7.36% from TV, newspapers, and the Inter-
net, respectively. These results contradict our ﬁndings. However,
Weng and Black (2015) stated that retailers play an important role
in inﬂuencing farmers, while reading labels on containers is not a
way to change farmers’ attitudes. This might be because Chinese
farmers are more educated and not fully dependent on a single
source of information regarding the safe usage of pesticides.
Representatives of private pesticide companies play a crucial
role in the dissemination of agricultural information. Although
the main goal of pesticide companies is to sell their products, they
still play a role in the capacity building of farmers by enhancing
their knowledge, bringing about behavioral changes, introducing
new technologies, and replacing old practices with new ones. The
data presented in Fig. 1 reveal that more than two thirds of the
respondents (77.4%) receive and follow instructions on the safe
usage of pesticides made available by the agents/representatives
of the pesticide companies, while only 22.6% do not receive infor-
mation on safe pesticide usage from agents. These results are in
line with Zhang and Lu’s (2007) ﬁndings.
The respondents who receive information regarding the safe
application of pesticides from TV and radio, literature, and the
Internet are shown in Fig. 1. About 25.6% of the respondents
receive information on safe pesticide usage from TV, while nearly
three quarters (74.4%) do not receive information from TV and
radio. This might be due to their inability to purchase a TV and sub-
sequent lack of a TV set at home. One study showed that technical
handling of pesticides is be improved through FFS and short mes-
sages transmitted over the radio (Bentley et al., 2004).
Respondents who receive information on safe pesticide usage
from literature accounted for 19%, and 81% of the respondents
were not reading the literature. A total of 85.6% of respondents
do not use the Internet as a source of information; only 14.4%
use the Internet to obtain the latest information regarding new
pesticides and safety measures to adopt.
3.2.1. Level of the information received by the respondents from
The level of information regarding safe pesticide usage that the
farmers receive from different sources is measured using a nominal
scale (Yes = 2 and No = 1). The data in Table 2 show that the major-
ity of the respondents have a low level of information (65.6%) on
safe pesticide usage. This might be due to their low level of educa-
tion, as educational level is known to play an important role in
increasing knowledge (Jensen et al., 2011). About one third of the
respondents (34.4%) are provided with a medium level of informa-
tion through the available sources, and no respondents receive a
high level of information on safe pesticide usage.
3.3. Reasons for pesticide usage
Fig. 2 lists the reasons for applying pesticides according to the
respondents. The data reveal that the majority of the respondents
apply pesticides to destroy/eradicate weeds (92.8%) or insects/
pests (92.8%), and 87.7% apply pesticides to control diseases.
Research has shown that about 55% yield losses occur due to weed
infestations, insect/pest attacks, and disease outbreaks in ﬁeld
crops (Toxipedia.org, 2011). Our study indicates that farmers are
well aware of the yield losses caused by weeds, insects/pests,
and diseases. Rijal et al. (2018) reported that, in Nepal, about 80%
of farmers were using chemicals/pesticides for pest management.
About 46.2% of the respondents sometimes apply pesticides to
control household pests, followed by 29.2% who always do and
24.6% who never apply pesticides to control household pests. The
respondents who always or sometimes apply pesticides for other
reasons, like veterinary purposes, account for 46.2%, and only
7.7% of the respondents do not apply pesticides for veterinary
3.4. Farmers’ problems during pesticide usage
Fig. 3 provides information on the problems faced by farmers’
regarding pesticide usage. A majority of the farmers (98.5%) report
that they always face problems with the pesticide’s effectiveness or
efﬁcacy on insects, pests, and diseases. When asked about pesticide
price ﬂuctuations, a majority of the respondents (88.2%) say they
always face this problem whenever they are in the market for pes-
ticides. Only 7.2% of the respondents never face any problems
regarding the price of pesticides.
As regards the services offered by the extension department,
about half of the respondents say they always face difﬁculties in
receiving advice from the extension department, followed by
25.1% who sometimes face problems and about 24.6% who never
face this kind of problem. Similar results were reported by Khan
Level of information on safe pesticide usage received by respon-
dents from different sources (N = 195).
Level of information Percentage (%)
Low (10) 65.6
Medium (11–14) 34.4
Fig. 2. Farmers’ reasons for applying pesticides.
1906 M. Mubushar et al. /Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910
et al. (2015), indicating that inadequate services are provided to
farmers by the extension department.
3.5. Respondents’ knowledge and practices regarding safe pesticide
The most common problems faced by the farmers regarding the
use of pesticides are identiﬁed (based on the personal knowledge
and experiences of farmers in the area, and informal conversations
with them) and are presented in Table 3 in the form of 15 ques-
tions. When asked about their pesticide purchasing behavior, the
majority of respondents (77.9%) say that they always purchase pes-
ticides for only one crop, whereas 11.8% reply that they sometimes
purchase pesticides to use on more than one crop, and 10.3% pur-
chase pesticides immediately when they notice a pest attack on a
particular crop and apply them to address the issue. Different stud-
ies conducted on the attitudes and knowledge of small landholders
showed that the common pesticide use practices in developing
countries are unsafe and cause health issues and environmental
hazards (Macharia et al., 2013; Abang et al., 2014; Damte and
Regarding the question about pesticide storage at home or in
animal shelters, a majority of the respondents (59.5%) store pesti-
cides at home in a separate place, 29.7% sometimes store pesticides
at home in a separate place, and 10.8% never store pesticides at
home in a separate place. Regarding the storage of pesticides on
animal farms, about 54.4% do not store them in a separate place,
indicating unhealthy practices. A total of 35.4% of farmers some-
times store them in a separate place, and a small number of
respondents (10.3%) never store pesticides at home in a separate
place. These results are in line with Konradsen et al. (2007),who
reported that a majority of the respondents (82%) in Sri Lanka kept
pesticides at home under lock and key, while 46% stored them on
their farms. The results of a study conducted in Tanzania by Lekei
et al. (2014) indicated that a majority of respondents (81%) often
used residential rooms as a storage place for their pesticides.
Zhang and Lu (2007) reported that farmers in China used bed-
rooms, granaries, and kitchens for pesticide storage.
The present study reveals that a majority of respondents
(48.2%) do not read the instructions written on pesticide bottles/-
containers. This is because most of the farmers are illiterate. The
respondents that always read the instructions account for 17.4%,
while 34.4% report that they sometimes read the instructions and
sometimes do not. Damalas and Khan (2016) noted that the major-
ity of farmers (73%) were not reading the instructions printed on
bottles/containers of pesticides. Grey et al. (2006) found that pes-
ticide bottle labels were helpful to them; however, due to low edu-
cation levels of the farmers, they were unable to read the
instructions written on the pesticide bottles/containers (Shetty
et al., 2010).
Fig. 3. Problems faced by farmers when using pesticides.
Respondents’ knowledge and practices regarding safe pesticide usage (dependent variables) N = 195.
Practices Percentage (%) Mean Standard deviation
Always Sometimes Never
Use empty container as a utensil for other purposes in the house 0.0 1.5 98.5 2.98 0.123
Pesticides purchased only sufﬁcient for one season 77.9 11.8 10.3 2.68 0.653
Mix with naked hands 3.6 26.2 70.3 2.67 0.544
Pesticides stored at home in a separate room 59.5 29.7 10.8 2.49 0.684
Take bath after completing the application 45.6 54.4 0.0 2.46 0.499
Eat and drink after washing hand with soap 39.0 61.0 0.0 2.39 0.489
Use small wire to remove blockage 29.2 68.7 2.1 2.27 0.490
Wash contaminated clothes in a separate load 41.5 27.7 30.8 2.11 0.846
If the nozzle gets blocked, I blow it with my mouth to clog out 21.5 49.7 28.7 2.07 0.707
Read the instructions written on the container 17.4 34.4 48.2 1.69 0.751
Smoke during pesticide applications 54.4 30.3 15.4 1.61 0.741
Pesticides can be stored in the animal shelter but in a separate room 10.3 35.4 54.4 1.56 0.674
Wear gloves and mask to protect hand and face 2.6 41.5 55.9 1.47 0.549
Dispose-off empty container according to the prescription 1.0 25.1 73.8 1.27 0.469
Wear long dress before starting a spray 2.1 5.1 92.8 1.09 0.354
Overall knowledge level of the farmers 27.04 (3) 33.5 (2) 39.46 (1)
M. Mubushar et al. /Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910 1907
Respondents who mix pesticides with their bare hands
accounted for only 3.6%, while the majority of respondents
(70.3%) avoid this. About 26.2% of respondents answer that they
sometimes mix pesticides with their bare hands. Research con-
ducted in Thailand by Jintana et al. (2009) showed that the major-
ity of respondents (88.9%) mixed pesticides with their bare hands,
69.8% were using higher concentrations than recommended, and
not a single respondent used PPE.
This study reveals that 21.5% of respondents blow into nozzles
with their mouths to clear blockages, indicating poor practices. The
study further reveals that nearly half of the respondents (49.7%)
sometimes blow into nozzles with their mouths, whereas about
28.7% of respondents never use their mouths to clear a nozzle.
The study further reveals that 29.2% of respondents clear nozzle
blockages with wires instead of using their mouths. However, a
majority of respondents (68.7%) sometimes uses wires but not
always, and only 2.1% never use wires to clear nozzle blockages.
Respondents were asked about their use of gloves and masks for
protection, and more than half (55.9%) answered ‘‘never,” followed
by 41.5% who sometimes wear them, and the rest (2.6%), who
always use gloves and masks to protect themselves from direct
pesticide exposure. Devi (2009) observed that about 80% of Indian
farmers covered their faces and heads with cloth but remained
Regarding the wearing of long clothing, a majority of the
respondents (92.8%) never wears it, but instead wear their regular
clothes while spraying; only 2.1% of the respondents always wear
long clothes when spraying. Smoking is a common behavior among
the farmers. The data in Table 3 indicate that more than half of the
respondents (54.4%) smoke during pesticide application, while
30.3% answer that they sometimes smoke and only 15.4% never
smoke during pesticide application. A study conducted by
Sekiyama et al. (2007) in Indonesia revealed that most of the farm-
ers did not wear safety gear, especially respirators/masks, and
smoked during pesticide application, indicating a major threat to
their health. Kachaiyaphum et al. (2010) indicated that three quar-
ters of farmers (76%) in Thailand did not wear protective clothes
and about 75% stored pesticides near food items. Studies con-
ducted by Damalas et al., 2006; Isin and Yildirim, 2007; Yassin
et al., 2002 produced similar results in Turkey, the Philippines,
Gaza, and Greece respectively. Similarly, only about 40% of farmers
in Iran use protective equipment when spraying (Hashemi et al.,
The eating and drinking habits of the respondents show that
most of them (61%) eat and drink during spraying with or without
washing their hands, and only 29% always wash their hands before
eating or drinking anything. Hand washing with hand sanitizer in
the ﬁeld may also reduce health risks (Coronado, 2012).
While responding to the question ‘‘Do you use empty pesticide
containers at your house?” almost all of the respondents show
good knowledge about this statement. About 98.5% state that they
never use empty containers at home. This ﬁnding contradicts
Ibitayo (2006), who reported that about 80% of Egyptian farmers
did not dispose of empty containers safely but instead used them
to store drinking water. As little as 1.5% of respondents say they
sometimes use them on an animal farm. Regarding the safe dis-
posal of empty pesticide containers, the responses are not encour-
aging. About 73.8% of the respondents never dispose of pesticide
containers according to the directions, but rather throw them away
in a ﬁeld and use them later. About 25.1% of respondents some-
times dispose of empty containers, and only 1% follow the direc-
tions written on the pesticide bottles/containers for safe disposal.
Regarding safety practices like taking a bath after pesticide
application, about 45.6% do this after using pesticides on their
crops. More than half of the respondents (54.4%) say that they
sometimes take a shower and sometimes do not take a bath after
the application of pesticides. Most of the respondents (41.5%) wash
clothes that are contaminated with pesticides separately, while
about 27.7% occasionally wash them separately; however, the rest
of the respondents (30.8%) never wash their contaminated clothes
separately. These results are in line with Weng and Black (2015),
who stated that about 81.8% of Taiwanese farm workers take a
shower immediately after pesticide application and change their
3.6. Regression model of farmers’ knowledge regarding safe pesticide
usage (dependent variables)
Farmers’ knowledge and practices regarding safe pesticide
usage are assessed using 16 different questions/statements. Each
statement is evaluated against three levels (Always, Sometimes,
and Never). The results show that more than half of the respon-
dents (54.4%) have a low level of knowledge on the safe use of pes-
ticides, while 45.6% possess good knowledge. Table 4 presents the
results of the multinomial logit model, which indicates that 4 out
of 11 variables in the model are statistically signiﬁcant at the
0.05 and 0.01 levels. Nagelkerke’s R
is 0.47, indicating that the
explanatory variables explain about 47% of the variation in farm-
ers’ knowledge regarding safety measures.
The education level (0.01**) of the farmers has a signiﬁcant
effect on their knowledge of safety measures at the 0.01 level. Dif-
ferent studies conducted outside of Pakistan showed that farmers
with better education histories and training in the use of PPE
exhibited changed behaviors toward the adoptability of PPE
(Blanco-Munoz and Lacasana, 2011; Al Zadjali et al., 2015).
The results show that the land ownership (0.03*) and total land
size (0.002**) of the farmers signiﬁcantly inﬂuences their likeli-
hood of having better knowledge of safety measures while using
pesticides at the 0.05 and 0.01 levels, respectively. This might be
due to respondents who own land having better knowledge of
the possible effects of pesticides on human health, soil, and the
environment than those who rent land for crop cultivation, do
not care about their own health, and are concerned only with
how to maximize proﬁts from the rented land. This study reveals
that farmers who own land use pesticides judiciously, adopt safety
measures, avoid deteriorating the soil, and work to preserve the
environment for future generations. As many researchers (e.g.,
Pimentel, 2009; Hillocks, 2012) have stated, intensive use of pesti-
cides in crop production results in reduced land yields, because it
affects the soil, crops, and farmers. Landowners treat their lands
as a valuable asset, and their value depends on their levels of pro-
ductivity and soil quality. However, for rented lands, once the
yields start decreasing, farmers generally return these lands to
the owners and move on to rent other fertile (more productive)
ﬁelds. Contradicting the above viewpoint, Rahman (2003) indi-
cated that the use of pesticides increased alongside an increase
for land owned by Bangladeshi farmers. Van der Hoek and
Konradsen (2005) reported a similar trend for Singhalese farmers.
Research in Pakistan showed that the socioeconomic characteris-
tics of the respondents—such as high education level, high income,
land size, and years of experience—greatly inﬂuenced the use of
safety equipment and willingness to pay to avoid the risks associ-
ated with pesticides (Khan and Damalas, 2015).
The effect of training (0.001**) on the knowledge of safety mea-
sures to be observed when using pesticides is signiﬁcant at the 0.01
level. Information received by the farmers from the agriculture
extension department indicates non-signiﬁcant trends in the
regression model. This might be due to the farmers’ behavior, as
they do not rely on extension services provided by the agriculture
extension department; rather, they depend on their fellow farmers.
Educational training programs based on safety precautions could
be one way of avoiding the hazards of pesticide exposure (Ye
1908 M. Mubushar et al. /Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910
et al., 2013). Blanco-Munoz and Lacasana (2011) mentioned that
when it comes to the use of PPE, a signiﬁcant change could come
from farmer training.
Land under cultivation inﬂuences the farmers to adopt more
protection measures during pesticide application because they
are exposed to pesticides for a long time. Because the majority of
farmers in this study possess small land-holdings and are not
exposed to pesticides for a long period of time and do not adopt
PPE, a non-signiﬁcant relationship is realized in the regression
model. These results are in line with Okoffo et al. (2016), who con-
cluded that farmers with big land-holdings are willing to pay more
for self-protection equipment; therefore, a signiﬁcant and positive
effect on the use of PPE was obtained. Pesticide usage experiences
also show a non-signiﬁcant relationship in the logit regression
model. This could be because the majority of farmers have only
5–10 years’ experience in using pesticides. The farmers that pos-
sess more experience have more knowledge of safety measures.
A possible reason could be that farmers learn through their own
experiences about the negative effects of pesticides, leading to
them adopt safety measures. Our study reveals that farmers do
not have much experience using pesticides, and hence show this
coefﬁcient is non-signiﬁcant in the regression model. The results
of our study contradict the ﬁndings of Khan and Damalas (2015),
who mentioned that pesticide usage experiences greatly inﬂu-
enced the use of safety equipment and the willingness to pay to
avoid pesticide risks.
3.7. Conclusion and recommendations
Pesticides can have negative effects on human health if they
handled improperly. The adoption and application of safety mea-
sures are necessary to avoid the detrimental effects of pesticides.
In this study, the results show that the middle-aged people of
the villages are more engaged in agriculture and farming than
the youth. Illiteracy is prevalent among farmers, and due to igno-
rance, they mainly rely on the advice of neighboring farmers and
do not get information from the Department of Agriculture (Exten-
sion) on biosafety measures. This study also reveals that farmers do
not follow the recommendations of the extension department or
the instructions printed on pesticide bottles/containers. Based on
the outcomes of this study, it is recommended that educational
programs (formal and informal) and training in pesticide usage
(Biosafety) be planned to assist farmers in enhancing their knowl-
edge and skills, and to encourage them to adopt safety measures.
The authors would like to thank the Deanship of Scientiﬁc
Research and the RSSU for their technical support and the Dean-
ship of Scientiﬁc Research (DSR) & Research Center, College of Food
and Agriculture Sciences, King Saud University, for ﬁnancial assis-
tance. Special thanks to Muhammad Hussain and Mujahid Ali for
their help in conducting the survey. Sincere thanks are due to Prof.
Dr. Michael R. Reed, Director, International Programs for Agricul-
ture at the University of Kentucky, USA and Dr. R. Kirby Barrick,
Emeritus Professor, Agricultural Education and Communication
University of Florida, USA for reviewing the initial drafts, making
helful comments and valuable suggestions.
Abang, A.F., Kouame, C.M., Abang, M., Hanna, R., Fotso, A.K., 2014. Assessing
vegetable farmer knowledge of diseases and insect pests of vegetable and
management practices under tropical conditions. Int. J. Vegetable Sci. 20, 240–
Abhilash, P.C., Singh, N., 2009. Pesticide use and application: an Indian scenario. J.
Hazard. Mater. 165, 1–12.
Ahmed, A., Randhawa, M.A., Yusuf, M.J., Khalid, N., 2011. Effect of processing on
pesticide residues in food crops: a review. J. Agric. Res. 49 (3), 379–390.
Al Zadjali, S., Morse, S., Chenoweth, J., Deadman, M., 2015. Personal safety issues
related to the use of pesticides in agricultural production in the Al-Batinah
region of northern Oman. Sci. Total Environ. 502, 457–461.
Anwar, T.A.H.I.R., Ahmad, I., Tahir, S.E.E.M.A., 2011. Determination of pesticide
residues in fruits of Nawabshah district, Sindh, Pakistan. Pakistan J. Bot. 43,
Bentley, J.W., Barea, O., Priou, S., Equise, H., Thicle, G., 2004. Comparing farmers ﬁeld
schools, community workshops, and radio: teaching Bolivian farmers about
Baterial wilt of potato. J. Int. Agric. Ext. Educ. 14, 45–61. www.plagbol.org.bo.
Bhutto, A.W., Bazmi, A.A., 2007. Sustainable agriculture and eradication of rural
poverty in Pakistan. In: Natural Resources Forum, vol. 31, No. 4. Blackwell
Publishing Ltd, pp. 253–262.
Blanco-Munoz, J., Lacasana, M., 2011. Practices in pesticide handling and the use of
personal protective equipment in Mexican agricultural workers. J. Agromed. 16
Bolognesi, C., Merlo, F.D., 2011. Pesticides: Human Health Effects. National Cancer
Research Institute, Genoa, Italy.
Coronado, G.D., 2012. Do work place and home protective practices protect farm
workers? Findings from the ‘‘For healthy Kids” study. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 54
Damalas, C.A., Khan, M., 2016. Farmers’ attitudes towards pesticide labels:
Implications for personal and environmental safety. Int. J. Pest Manage. 62,
Damalas, C.A., Georgiou, E.B., Theodorou, M.G., 2006. Pesticide use and safety
practices among Greek tobacco farmers: a survey. Int. J. Environ. Health Res. 16
Damte, T., Tabor, G., 2015. Small-scale vegetable producers’ perception of pests and
pesticide uses in East Shewa zone Ethiopia. Int. J. Pest Manage. 61 (3), 212–219.
Devi, P.I., 2009. Health risk perceptions, awareness and handling behaviour of
pesticides by farm workers. Agric. Econ. Res. Rev. 22 (2).
Ejaz, S., Akram, W., Lim, C.W., Lee, J.J., Hussain, I., 2004. Endocrine disrupting
pesticides: a leading cause of cancer among rural people in Pakistan. Exp. Oncol.
26 (2), 98–105.
Government of Pakistan (GOP). Economic survey (2016). Islamabad; Ministry of
Finance, Pakistan, pp. 23–24.
Grey, C.N., Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J., Golding, J., Team, A.L.S.P.A.C., 2006. Use and
storage of domestic pesticides in the UK. Sci. Total Environ. 368 (2–3), 465–470.
Grube, A., Donaldson, D., Kiely, T., Wu, L., 2011. Pesticides Industry Sales and Usage.
US EPA, Washington, DC.
Result of logit regression model of farmers’ knowledge regarding safe pesticide usage (dependent variables).
Dependent variable: Total safe use of pesticides; knowledge 1 = acceptable (above the mean), 0 = low (below the mean)
Explanatory Variable bS.E. Wald D.F Signiﬁcance (p value)
Age of the respondents 1.78 1.48 1.35 1 0.42 ns
Education level 2.56 0.71 6.2 1 0.01**
Occupation 1.35 1.44 2.31 1 0.18 ns
Annual income 1.59 1.06 2.52 1 0.17 ns
Land ownership 2.11 0.95 5.26 1 0.03*
Total land size 5.22 1.69 9.25 1 0.002**
Area under cultivation 1.11 0.97 2.59 1 0.28 ns
Pesticide use period 1.25 0.89 2.11 1 0.22 ns
Extension service as a source of information 1.85 1.66 3.55 1 0.09 ns
Training 4.85 1.48 10.55 1 0.001**
Constant 2.18 2.46 0.000 1 1.000
2log likelihood = 254.1, Nagelkerke’s R
= 0.47. Level of signiﬁcance: ** (P < 0.001); * (P < 0.05), ns = not signiﬁcant.
M. Mubushar et al. /Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910 1909
Hashemi, S.M., Rostami, R., Hashemi, M.K., Damalas, C.A., 2012. Pesticide use and
risk perceptions among farmers in southwest Iran. Human Ecol. Risk Assess.:
Int. J. 18 (2), 456–470.
Hillocks, R.J., 2012. Farming with fewer pesticides: EU pesticide review and
resulting challenges for UK agriculture. Crop Prot. 31 (1), 85–93.
Ibitayo, O.O., 2006. Egyptian farmers’attitudes and behaviors regarding agricultural
pesticides: implications for pesticide risk communication. Risk Anal. 26, 989–
Isin, S., Yildirim, I., 2007. Fruit-growers’ perceptions on the harmful effects of
pesticides and their reﬂection on practices: The case of Kemalpasa Turkey. Crop
Prot. 26 (7), 917–922.
Jensen, H.K., Konradsen, F., Jørs, E., Petersen, J.H., Anders, A., 2011. Pesticide use and
self-reported symptoms of acute pesticide poisoning among aquatic farmers in
phnom penh. J. Toxicol., 639814] [http://wwwhindawi.com/journals/jt/2011/
Jintana, S., Sming, K., Krongtong, Y., Thanyachai, S., 2009. Cholinesterase activity,
pesticide exposure and health impact in a population exposed to
organophosphates. Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 82 (7), 833–842.
Jors, E., Lander, F., Huici, O., Morant, R.C., Gulis, G., Konradsen, F., 2014. Do Bolivian
small holder farmers improve and retain knowledge to reduce occupational
pesticide poisonings after training on Integrated Pest Management? Environ.
Health 13 (1), 75.
Kachaiyaphum, P., Howteerakul, N., Sujirarat, D., Siri, S., Suwannapong, N., 2010.
Serum cholinesterase levels of Thai chilli-farm workers exposed to chemical
pesticides: prevalence estimates and associated factors. J. Occup. Health 52 (1),
Kesavachandran, C.N., Fareed, M., Pathak, M.K., Bihari, V., Mathur, N., Srivastava, A.
K., 2009. Adverse health effects of pesticides in agrarian populations of
developing countries. In: Reviews of Environmental Contamination and
Toxicology, vol 200. Springer US, pp. 33–52.
Khan, A.A., Muhammad, Z., Muhammad, M., Inamullah, L.K., Muhammad, B., Fazal,
R., Nadia, B., 2015. The role of agricultural extension services in tomato
Production in district Mansehra Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. ARPN J. Agric. Biol. Sci.
10 (5), 200–205.
Khan, M., 2012. Adverse health experiences, risk perception and pesticide use
behavior, Unpublished PhD Thesis. Islamabad: School of Economics Sciences,
Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology; Retrieved from http://
Khan, M.A., Iqbal, M., 2009. Sustainable cotton production through skill
development among farmers: evidence from Khairpur district of Sindh,
Pakistan. Pakistan Dev. Rev. 44, 695–716.
Khan, M.J., Zia, M.S., Qasim, M., 2010. Use of pesticides and their role in
environmental pollution. World Acad. Sci. Eng. Technol. 72, 122–128.
Khan, M., Damalas, C.A., 2015. Farmers’ willingness to pay for less health risks by
pesticide use: A case study from the cotton belt of Punjab, Pakistan. Sci. Total
Environ. 530, 297–303.
Konradsen, F., Pieris, R., Weerasinghe, M., Van der Hoek, W., Eddleston, M., Dawson,
A.H., 2007. Community uptake of safe storage boxes to reduce self-poisoning
from pesticides in rural Sri Lanka. BMC Public Health 7 (1), 13.
Lekei, E.E., Ngowi, A.V., London, L., 2014. Farmers’ knowledge, practices and injuries
associated with pesticide exposure in rural farming villages in Tanzania. BMC
Public Health 14, 389.
MacFarlane, F., Carey, R., Keegel, T., El-Zaemay, S., Fritschi, L., 2013. Dermal
exposure associated with occupational end use of pesticides and the role of
protective measures. Safety Health Work 4, 136–141.
Macharia, I., Mithofer, D., Waibel, H., 2013. Pesticide handling practices by
vegetable farmer in Kenya. Environ. Dev. Sustain. 15, 887–902.
McDougall, P., AgriService. 2008-2012. Proprietary Agriservice databases and
analyses for international and U.S. pesticide use. http://phillipsmcdougall.co.
Medline Plus, 2015. Insecticide poisoning. US National Library. www.nlm.nih.gov ›
Home ›Medical Encyclopedi (accessed 03.11.15).
Okoffo, E.D., Mensah, M., Fosu-Mensah, B.Y., 2016. Pesticides exposure and the use
of personal protective equipment by cocoa farmers in Ghana. Environ. Syst. Res.
5 (1), 17.
Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP), 2015. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning.
Cornell University, cooperative extension, module 9. http://psep.cce.cornell.
Pimentel, D., 2009. Integrated Pest Management: Innovation-development Process.
Rahman, S., 2003. Proﬁt efﬁciency among Bangladeshi rice farmers. Food Policy 28
Rehman, F., Muhammad, S., Ashraf, I., Ch, K.M., Ruby, T., 2013. Effect of farmers’
socioeconomic characteristics on access to agricultural information: empirical
evidence from Pakistan. Young (Up to 35) 52, 21–67.
Rijal, J.P., Regmi, R., Ghimire, R., Puri, K.D., Gyawaly, S., Poudel, S., 2018. Farmers’
knowledge on pesticide safety and pest management practices: a case study of
vegetable growers in Chitwan, Nepal. Agriculture 8 (1), 16.
Rios-Gonzalez, A., Jansen, K., Sanchez-Perez, H.J., 2013. Pesticide risk perceptions
and the differences between farmers and extensionists: Towards a knowledge-
in-context model. Environ. Res. 124, 43–53.
Sekiyama, M., Tanaka, M., Gunawan, B., Abdoellah, O., Watanabe, C., 2007. Pesticide
usage and its association with health symptoms among farmers in rural villages
in West Java Indonesia. Environ. Sci. 14 (Suppl), 23–33.
Shetty, P.K., Murugan, M., Hiremath, M.B., Sreeja, K.G., 2010. Farmers’ education and
perception on pesticide use and crop economies in Indian agriculture. J. Exp. Sci.
Toxipedia.org, 2011. Pesticide use statistics. Available from: http://toxipedia.org/
display/toxipedia/Pesticide1Use1Statistics (accessed November 2013).
Van Der Hoek, W., Konradsen, F., 2005. Risk factors for acute pesticide poisoning in
Sri Lanka. Trop. Med. Int. Health 10 (6), 589–596.
Weng, C., Black, C., 2015. Taiwanese farm workers’ pesticide knowledge, attitudes,
behaviors and clothing practices. Int. J. Environ. Health Res. 25, 685–696.
Yassin, M.M., Mourad, T.A., Saﬁ, J.M., 2002. Knowledge, attitude, practice, and
toxicity symptoms associated with pesticide use among farm workers in the
Gaza Strip. Occup. Environ. Med. 59 (6), 387–393.
Ye, M., Beach, J., Martin, J.W., Senthilselvan, A., 2013. Occupational pesticide
exposures and respiratory health. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 10, 6442–
Zhang, H., Lu, Y., 2007. End-users’ knowledge, attitude, and behavior towards safe
use of pesticides: a case study in the Guanting Reservoir area China. Environ.
Geochem Health 29, 513–520.
Zia, M.S., Khan, M.J., Qasim, M., Rehman, A., 2009. Pesticide residue in the food chain
and human body inside Pakistan. J. Chem. Soc. Pak. 31, 284–291.
1910 M. Mubushar et al. /Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 26 (2019) 1903–1910