KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICES OF PESTICIDE USE AMONG COWPEA TRADERS WITHIN ABEOKUTA, SOUTHWEST NIGERIA
Keywords:Pesticides, Toxicity, Safe Practices, Cowpea, Abeokuta
Adequate knowledge and adoption of best practices, needed to avoid pesticide poisoning and ensure food safety was investigated among cowpea traders within Abeokuta, southwest Nigeria. Structured questionnaires were administered to cowpea traders to collect data such as knowledge about pesticide toxicity, practices and self-reported clinical effects following exposure. Obtained data were analyzed using descriptive statistical tools. Approximately 62% of chemicals used by the traders to treat pest infestation contained organophosphates, 12% contained pyrethroids while 26% were inorganic chemicals, all of which are moderately hazardous. Data from the Likert Scale on trader’s knowledge about pesticides showed that 78% of traders had reasonable knowledge of the toxicity of pesticides. Traders however failed to adopt best practices on the use of pesticides. The major self-reported clinical symptoms following pesticide application were skin irritation (76%), vomiting (78%), sneezing (73%), back pain (80%) and nausea (48%). Majority of the traders neither sought medical help at hospitals nor took medication to ensure relieve despite the fact that these symptoms may be indicative of pesticide poisoning. Most (80%) of the traders interviewed did not observe a safe withdrawal period after pesticide application and would sell the produce when they need money or envisage a high profit. This practice is highly condemnable as it potentially exposes cowpea consumers to significant levels of toxic chemicals and their residues which can lead to chronic pesticide poisoning and in some cases death. Therefore, training and sensitization of cowpea traders is recommended to promote pesticide knowledge and safer practices.