About 50 farmers at Techimantia, near Bechem, in the Tano South Municipality of the Ahafo region have been sensitized on the appropriate application of agro-chemicals on crops to ensure that human lives and the environment are well protected.
Techimantia was chosen for the sensitization programme because it is one of the major areas where tomatoes, garden eggs, pepper and other vegetables are produced in large quantities.
The programme was organised by the Youth Initiative for Sustainable Environment (YISE), a non-profit-making organisation which seeks to ensure environmental sustainability for both the present and future generations.
YISE, which mainly targets the youth and farmers, further mobilizes and empower the youth to adopt sustainable agricultural practices that mitigate the impacts of climate change and other issues relating to the environment in Ghana.
Speaking at the programme at Techimantia, the Executive Director of YISE, Mr. David Oteng Adarkwa, explained that inappropriate use of agro-chemicals has dire consequences on the health of the farmer, the consuming public and the environment as a whole.
“One may not immediately realise the adverse effects of wrong use of pesticides, or herbicides or any other chemical, but gradually it could accumulate in one’s body overtime and result in all kinds of diseases”, he said.
He therefore charged farmers to go strictly by the directions indicated on each agro-chemical they intend to use for their own benefit and for the benefit of others.
“If you cannot read the instructions yourself, kindly get someone to read and explain to you before applying these chemicals on your crops. Every chemical has its own way of how it can be used so don’t just apply them, seek the right information about it before using it”, he again said.
“Pesticides are an important tool in modern agriculture, but the risks and benefits of using pesticides must be considered before an application takes place”, Mr. Oteng Adarkwa stated.
Mr. Cosmos Gyabaah, the Secretary of the NGO, explained that agro-chemicals are synthetic chemicals used to enhance the growth of crops and boost their yield, their continuous use of agro-chemicals in a particular area for a long period of time has dire consequences for the soil, water-bodies, biodiversity, pollinators and climatic conditions.
He said the continuous application of these chemicals over a long period can deplete the soil quality and fertility leading to reduced crop yields and ultimately requiring more agro-chemicals.
“The chemicals can also seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater or be carried away by run-off water into nearby water-bodies. This can cause serious harm to the aquatic ecosystem and potentially impact negatively on human lives”, Mr. Gyabaah further added.
For his part, the Financial Secretary of YISE, Evans Awuni explained the health and economic benefits of organic farming to the participants and asked the to seek further information from the district office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), especially Agric Extension Officers.
He said organic agriculture enhances biological diversity, increases soil biological activity, maintain long-term soil fertility and promotes the healthy use of the soil, water and air as well as minimizes all forms of pollution that may arise out of agricultural practices.
To maintain soil fertility at all times, Mr. Awuni encouraged the farmers to practice, intercropping, composting, mulching, organic pest management as well as green manuring, among several others.
In separate interviews after the programme, the participants commended the Youth Initiative for Sustainable Environment for opening their eyes on the dangers associated with the wrong application of agro-chemicals and pledged to make good use of the knowledge acquired during the training.
Mercy Baah, a vegetable farmer at Techimantia, who is into the production of tomatoes, garden eggs and ground nuts, said she never knew most of the information shared at the training.
“Prior to coming here, I had been using poison and other pesticides on my farm but today, I have learnt about the use or organic manure using saw-dust and faecal matter of poultry as well Nim tree and other natural methods which are healthier”, she said.
The Assembly member for Oseimfikyire Electoral Area, Joseph Kwame Appiah, described the programme as “unique” as it had enlightened them on organic farming, saying; “this will go a long way to promote the health of both the farmer and the consumer.”