AN ASSESSMENT OF KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDE AND PRACTICE OF AGROCHEMICALS USE IN THE FLOWER FARM INDUSTRY, NAIVASHA, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Intensive agriculture and cut flower farming which are characterized by heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers have been on the increase in developing countries. A number of consequences are associated with heavy use of pesticides; however weak enforcement of laws and regulations suggests that their use will continue. There is a high possibility that Flower Farm Workers (FFW‟s) lack knowledge in handling, storage and use of pesticides in flower farms leading to increased incidences of pesticide poisoning. This study therefore aimed at; assessing the level of knowledge and awareness of pesticide use among FFW‟s; evaluating practices in pesticide handling, storage and use among FFW‟s and finally; examining attitudes and perceptions towards pesticide use among FFW‟s in Lake Naivasha Basin (LNB).The research design used was a cross sectional survey and the sampling frame comprised the population of Naivasha Division, a total of 180,012. Of these 780 FFW‟s were interviewed by random sampling. Data was collected using a detailed questionnaire. Additional information was generated from scheduled interviews and focus group discussions. Data entry and analysis was done using Statistical Programme for Social Scientist (SPSS) version 17. Results indicate that 48.7% of the FFW‟s have undergone training on handling and use of pesticides. A total of 77.6% of the respondents were aware of the adverse effects of pesticides on human health and the environment. Knowledge about the effects of agro-chemicals among FFW‟s is relatively high and varies from one flower farm to another depending on the level of training. A cross-tabulation between the level of education and use of Personal Protective Equipments (PPE‟s) by FFW‟s showed that most respondents (86.8%) who have been through formal education reportedly used PPE‟s. Correlation between training on handling of pesticides and use of PPE‟s was positive and statistically significant (p=0.001, r=0.365), suggesting that increased awareness translates to proper practices in the use of pesticides.. Most of the FFW‟s feel that the owners of the flower farm use hazardous chemicals which increase yields but without due consideration to their health. Arising from these findings the following recommendations are made. Immediate measures must be taken to acquaint and train the FFW‟s on proper handling and management of agro-chemicals. In addition, timely and appropriate enforcement of the law is needed to ensure farming activities within LNB are conducted in a environmentally sustainable manner.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background Information
Since the 1980s, industrial horticulture and floriculture farms in Kenya centred mainly in the Lake Naivasha region have grown into the largest supplier of flowers to the European market (LNRA,1999), exporting more than 88 million tonnes of cut flowers a year, worth $264 million. The more than 30 flower farms in the Lake Naivasha region pose a number of serious ecological problems for upstream rivers in the basin and for the lake. This includes loss of water, an unsustainable increase in the population because of the labourers they have attracted, and pollution through the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers (Food and Water Watch, 2008). As these roses‟ colourful blooms radiate romance around the world, large flower growers have been accused of misusing a toxic mixture of pesticides, fungicides and fumigants to grow and export unblemished pest-free flowers (Ecobichon 2001). Increased cases of pesticides poisoning due to chemical exposure has been reported (Harper,1990) while poor working condition, health and economic implications have become issues of social and academic inquiry (Rioba, 2010). This study examined knowledge, attitude and practice in the use of agricultural chemicals (agro- chemicals) within the Lake Naivasha basin. Growing concerns have been expressed not only about the health hazards involved in flower production but also on the environmental instability caused by the flowers.

For many years there were no substantial efforts to enforce codes of environmental protection in Kenya (Bolo, 2006). However, and ironically with close trading links with European buyers, the sensitivity of Kenya‟s natural environment, the strength of the Kenyan conservation movement and the lack of comprehensive and enforceable national legislation have meant that Kenya has one of the most codified flower industry in the world (Rioba, 2010). In the United Kingdom supermarkets are now adding social and environmental requirements to their supplier codes of practice (Dolan et al., 2003). Kenyan growers have largely managed to resist pressure to comply with European flower industry codes of practice (most notably the Dutch Millieu Project Sierteelt (MPS) code). Currently there are two “home-grown” code options for Kenyan flower growers. The more rigorous code has been developed by the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) and the Fresh Produce Exporters‟ Association of Kenya (FPEAK)-Kenya Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).

An increase in the number of pesticides and in the amounts used in Africa during the last decade have led to growing attention to possible adverse effects on human health. This may be caused not only by the active ingredients and associated impurities, but also by; solvents, carriers, emulsifiers and other constituents of the formulated product (Schaefer, 1990). These chemicals pose significant occupational and environmental health risks (WHO/UNEP, 1987). Agricultural workers are the most conspicuous occupational group at risk of pesticide poisoning (UNEP, 1986), especially pesticide sprayers. Estimates by World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that worldwide, three million severe pesticide poisoning cases occur annually. In addition, 25 million symptomatic occupational pesticide poisonings occur among agricultural workers in developing countries (WHO/UNEP 1990).

Pesticide use causes acute and chronic ecological damage, either by direct injury to non- target organisms such as birds and fish, or by indirect effects such as elimination of natural enemies (Harper 2002). Pesticides are a single form of environmental hazard in that they are actually designed to harm living things. Many organochlorines compounds are persistent in the environment and have a tendency to bioaccumulate significantly through food chains (UNEP, 1993). Organophosphates have several advantages over other types of pesticides, including high acute toxicity to target organisms, but they are not persistent in the environment as are organochlorines, when they decompose to non-toxic products. However, their acute toxicity is of concern to limnologists studying the Lake Naivasha ecosystem (Becht & Harper, 2002). Aquatic environments are particularly affected because pesticides applied to land-based agriculture systems are eventually carried into water bodies through surface runoff, rivers, and groundwater flow. Therefore, chronic and acute effects of pesticide pollution and bioaccumulation in aquatic flora and fauna are more severe.

Lack of knowledge, poor attitudes and practices in the use of agrochemicals continue to affect the flower farm workers, especially those working in the greenhouses (Agnes and Waibel, 2000). This suggests that, proper knowledge, practice and use of agrochemicals should be established in order to identify the knowledge gap among the most vulnerable groups and employ the best management practices that would increase public awareness to ensure proper handling and use of pesticide. The results from the study will be an important resource to policy makers to ensure that the relevant organizations adhere to the set standards and conduct civic education to create public awareness.

Statement of the Problem
Increased quantities of pesticides continue to be used in developing countries including Kenya, despite the often inappropriate working conditions facing agricultural workers applying them. It is highly likely that there is inadequate knowledge in handling, storing and use of pesticides in the floriculture industry. This leads to increased incidence of pesticide poisoning among flower farm workers in Kenya. Despite this, literature review suggests that very few studies have been done on the subject of FFWs‟ knowledge and attitudes with regard to the application of agrochemicals in Kenya. Consequently, little is known about this problem to the extent that workers in flower farms continue to be exposed to the adverse effects of chemical sprays. It is in view of the emerging gaps in knowledge that an assessment of the current levels of knowledge, practice in handling and storage of pesticides was undertaken to generate information. It is expected that this information will help minimize potential health and environmental risks associated with pesticides use. In addition stakeholder awareness will be improved. The findings generated from this study will aid policy makers to ensure that proper and comprehensive policies are formulated and are adhered to, in order to increase public awareness and this will reduce pesticide poisoning.

Objectives of the Study
Broad Objective
The broad objective of this study was to generate knowledge, attitudes and practices of agrochemicals use in Lake Naivasha Basin, Kenya.

Specific objectives
In pursuant of the broad objective, the study focussed on the following specific objectives;

1. To assess the level of knowledge and awareness of pesticides use among flower farm workers in Lake Naivasha basin.

2. To examine attitudes and perceptions towards pesticides use among various pesticide handlers and distributors within the Lake Naivasha basin

3. To evaluate practices in pesticide handling, storage and use among flower farm workers in Lake Naivasha basin against the best management practices proposed by Kenya Gap.

Research Questions
1. What is the current level of knowledge and awareness on pesticide use among flower farm workers in L. Naivasha basin?

2. What are the attitudes and perceptions among agricultural farm workers towards the use of pesticides within Lake Naivasha basin?

3. To what extent are methods of pesticide handling, storage, application and use of personal protective equipment influenced by knowledge on the effects of pesticides use among flower farm workers in Lake Naivasha basin?

Justification
Prior to this study, knowledge, attitude and practice of agrochemical use in the study area was hardly documented and information about the practice and use of pesticides was limited. Studies on pesticide poisoning in developing countries have been few and most of them have addressed the health effects of occupational exposure to pesticides in general and the clinical effects of pesticide poisoning: in Tanzania, (Mbakaya et, al., 1994); in Malaysia, (Nordin et, al.,2001); in Thailand, (Klinman,et, al.,2011); in India, (Kumar et, al.,2010); in Greece, (Damalas et. al.,2011); in Costarica, (Polidoro,et, al.,2008); in Lebanon, (Salameh et, al., 2003); in Kenya, (Ohayo-Mitoko et, al., 1997) and (Mwanthi and Kimani, 1993).

Only a limited number of studies have dealt specifically with the patterns of pesticide handling, knowledge and attitude of agricultural workers (Manda, 1985, Ngowi, 2003, Mokhele, 2011 and Yassin et al, 2002). In fact, determinants of pesticide poisoning have not been adequately evaluated nor have systematic prevention strategies for pesticide poisoning in Kenya been developed (Agnes,2000). Studies on public health which focus on the health impacts of agrochemical poisoning among agricultural workers fail to highlight on the level of knowledge among the workers. If left unaddressed, long term pesticide exposure would result to severe health and environmental degradation of both the workers and the environment.

Information acquired on the current level of knowledge and awareness on pesticide use among flower farm workers in Lake Naivasha Basin is vital in designing pesticide awareness programmes among the various governmental organizations and ministries charged with the mandate to check into the welfare of the flower farm workers. An evaluation of practices in pesticide handling, storage and use of pesticides against the best management practices proposed by the various codes of practice would be instrumental in establishing adherence to the laid down rules and regulations by growers and help in ensuring the safety of the flower farm workers.

Scope of the Study
The subject of this study was knowledge, attitude and practice of agrochemical use in Lake Naivasha basin. The study assessed the level of knowledge and awareness of pesticides use among flower farm workers in Lake Naivasha basin, evaluated practices in pesticide handling, storage and use of agrochemicals against the best management practices proposed by Kenya Gap; examined attitudes and perceptions towards pesticides use among various pesticide handlers and distributors within the Lake Naivasha basin. The study area was Naivasha division, the target population was flower farm workers within the division working in flower farms and applying various types of pesticides in three sub-locations namely; Mirera, Olkaria and Tarambeta. A purposive random sampling was used to draw the sample size of the flower farm workers in the six study sites namely; Karagita, Kamere, Kwa-Muhia, Sher Karuturi Staff quarters and Kasarani. This study was done between February and May, 2011.

Limitations of the Study
The study encountered the following limitations:
The target population was made up of flower farm workers who were then working in flower farms. However, during data collection, a good number of respondents were former flower farm workers who had stopped working in flower farms for various reasons. Information given by these respondents was thus sometimes out dated or biased. However, this limitation did not compromise the quality of the data collected, since respondents were asked to state the year, department and the period within which they have been working in a particular flower farm and comparison was made with data from respondents with recent information about the mentioned flower farm.

Secondly, flower farm workers are sceptical about sharing information about the flower farms in which they work. Most workers are scared of losing their jobs. To counter this challenge, the provincial administration was involved to re-assure the community of the need for their co- operation and the benefits of such a study in identifying issues that would help reduce the increased rates of pesticide poisoning among the flower farm workers and the general public.

Definition of Terms
Agrochemicals- A generic term for the various chemical products used in agriculture. In most cases, agrichemical refers to the broad range of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. It may also include synthetic fertilizers, hormones and other chemical growth agents, and concentrated stores of raw animal manure

Agrovets- A generic term used to refer to retail shops that dispense chemical products used in agriculture and livestock such as dewormers, insecticides and herbicides.

Aquatic- Relating to water, living in, near or taking place in water.

Ecosystem- Is a unit of biological organization consisting of all the organisms in an area interacting with the physical environment and with each other so that a flow of energy leads to characteristic tropic structure, material cycles and biological diversity.

Pest Control Product - A product or substance that is manufactured, sold or used as a means for directly or indirectly controlling, preventing or repelling any pest. It includes any compound or substance that enhances or modifies the physical or chemical characteristics of a pest control products to which it is added; and any active ingredient used for the manufacture of pest control products.

Peri-Urban areas- Areas that fall both within urban setups and the rural/agricultural setting. Protective clothing: - Clothing selected or designed to protect the wearer against contamination; to be worn, as recommended, when handling, mixing and applying crop protection products.

Pre-harvesting interval/safety period- The period of time which must elapse between the application of a crop protection product and the harvesting of a crop, to ensure that protection product residues on the crop are within acceptable limits.

Re-entry period: - The time which must elapse after crop protection product treatment of a crop or an area before it is advisable for people to re-enter the treated area (Enanga 2009).

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