Health risks assessment for paddy rice farmers during rice crop production in Eastern Tanzania
Mwalilino JK, Kyando I, BS Kilonzo, LL Mnyone and Mulungu LS
The study was conducted to assess health risks of paddy rice farmers using agrochemicals in System Rice Intensification (SRI) and non SRI farms in Mkindo and Hembeti villages in Mvomero District, Eastern Tanzania. Structured questionnaires and face to face interviews were used for data collection. The majority of paddy rice farmers in the study villages (96.67% and 86.6% of respondents in Hembeti and Mkindo respectively) confirmed using agrochemicals in their paddy fields. Generally, the use of agrochemicals was higher in non SRI than in SRI farms. Most of agrochemicals used in these study villages were found to be in class II hazard with moderate effects on both human and environment health. The storage and disposal systems of pesticide containers in the study villages were observed to be reasonably good and hence risks of pesticides poisoning and contamination of soil and water sources were considered to be limited. It was further noted that most paddy rice farmers do not use complete person protective equipment (PPE) probably due to poverty and limited knowledge on the importance of such equipment in protecting themselves against effects of pesticides on health. Furthermore, the study revealed that there was substantial shortage of extension officers who could educate the paddy rice farmers and agrochemicals shop sellers on the health effects of pesticides used in rice production. On the basis of the findings in the current study, increasing farmer’s awareness and training aimed at equipping farmers with knowledge on sustainable agriculture, agrochemicals uses and integrated pest management, so as to lower the potential health effects of such chemicals, is recommended.