This World Bank research on pesticide use focuses on assessing risks and intervention to control hazards (e.g., perception of risk, safe-handling alternatives, health effects, pesticide application "hot spots", delivery system for pesticides, institutional incentives, and determinants of farmers’ pesticide application choices).
As in many developing countries, Bangladesh has actively promoted the use of pesticides to increase output per acre of agricultural land. Consequently, pesticide use has risen over the past few decades. Furthermore, many pesticides used in Bangladesh are banned or restricted under international agreements. Anecdotal evidence suggests that widespread overuse and misuse of pesticides has to led to rising pesticide poisoning and ecological damage. The full extent poisoning and ecological damage is unknown because of the high cost of conducting primary surveys in villages and the limited availability of systematic evidence on pesticide use and its effects, but the limited data available suggests troubling trends.
In a survey of 110 pesticide traders conducted in Bangladesh in 2003, 54% of the pesticide traders, when questioned, reported frequent health symptoms commonly associated with acute pesticide poisoning, and 92% openly admitted that they do not take any protective measures during the handling of pesticides.
In another survey of 820 rice, potato, bean, eggplant, cabbage, sugar cane and mango farmers conducted during the same period, over 47% of farmers were found to be overusing pesticides, when compared with the dosage recommended on the pesticide package labels. Only 4% of the farmers surveyed were formally trained in pesticide use or handling, and over 87% openly admitted that they use little or no protective measures while applying pesticides.
Active promotion of suitable averting behavior and hygienic practices is needed among pesticide traders and applicators/farmers in Bangladesh, as well as outreach programs that deal specifically with pesticide risk, safe handling, and protective actions. Ideally, the approach would be participatory in nature to address key informational gaps, as well as increasing traders’ and farmers’ awareness retention.
Pesticide Use in Vietnam
Use of pesticides in Vietnam has more than doubled between 1990 and 1999, according to the FAO estimates. Surveys by the Plant Protection Department in 2000 has detected widespread application of banned, illegally imported / counterfeit pesticides and significant overuse. Secondary data on health effects of pesticides is scarce in Vietnam. In 2004, research on pesticide poisoning among rice farmers in Mekong delta were conducted. Blood Cholinesterase tests suggested 35% of the farmers tested are suffering from organophosphates and carbamates poisoning, with 21% showing signs of chronic poisoning. Analysis of results further revealed a lower incidence of poisoning for farmers who avoid the most toxic pesticides and use protective items while loading, mixing and applying pesticides. Switching to lower-hazard pesticides and use of protective items must be promoted to reduce individual health risks.
"A Pinch or a Pint? Evidence of Pesticide Overuse in Bangladesh," Craig Meisner and Mainul Huq, Journal of Agricultural Economics 58(1): 91-114, 2007.
"Pesticide Poisoning of Farm Workers: Implications of Blood Test Results from Vietnam,", Susmita Dasgupta, Craig Meisner, David Wheeler, Nhan Thi Lam, Khuc Xuyen, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 210(2): 121-32, March 2007.
"Pesticide Traders Perception of Health Risks: Evidence from Bangladesh," Susmita Dasgupta, Craig Meisner, and Nlandu Mamingi, Asian-African Journal of Economics and Econometrics 6(1): 71-86, 2006.