Ethiopian farmer loading pesticide in a backpack sprayer as he prepares to spray his onion field
While assessing pesticide use and safety in southern Ethiopia in 2015, I met a farmer as he applied pesticide to his onion crop. The crop looked great and he was applying protective fungicide together with an insecticide to ward of possible insect and disease infestations. I used pictures of this particular farmer on my website and blog posts and perhaps you are familiar with him. To me he represents part of a looming problem with pesticide use in Africa. Let me elaborate.
First, where did the water he used to mix the pesticide before application come from? The canal in the background in the picture was his water source, and you can see that it is murky. Those familiar with how pesticides work are wondering whether the pesticide application successfully controlled the pests because of the possibility of antagonism (where the active ingredient is tied up by elements within contaminated water).
Second, how was the cleanup performed after pesticide application was complete? The canal water was used for cleanup of equipment and disposal of excess spray solution.
Third, what other service did the canal waters provide? It was a source for potable water for the farmer and local community, and was also used for crop irrigation.
Left Bank Road spraying here in the Byron Shire.
Only difference this is sprayed from a tractor.