Deadly farm chemicals threat looms larger
By Staff Writer
Unscrupulous dealers have been accused of taking advantage of
constraints facing the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI)
Inspectorate Department, by smuggling into the country pesticides and
other chemicals classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as
The chemicals are sold to local communities involved in horticulture.
With only 165 registered pesticides inspectors countrywide, the
directorate lacks facilities such as vehicles required for conducting
regular crackdowns on violators of the 1997 Plant and Protection Act and
its 1999 regulations, including pesticides importers, distributors and
TPRI investigated a poisoning incidence involving a cholinesterase
enzyme inhibitor, which occurred in one of the flower farms in Arusha
region about two years ago, but owing to delays in reporting the
incidence to the institute, the investigation became inconclusive and
victims were denied of proper treatment and compensation.
Unregistered class 1b pesticides such as Lannate 90 (methomyl), vydate L
(oxamyl), nemacur 400 EC (Fenamiphos), rugby 100 (Caddusatos) and
Furadan 4F (Carbofuran), according to the TPRI Environment Management
Center Head, Alcheraus Rwazo, were found in some flower farms during the
investigation around local green houses.
Rwazo told about 30 pesticides stakeholders gathered at TPRI to develop
a surveillance system for pesticides poisoning. WHO classified
pesticides into four categories namely 1a for extremely hazardous, 1b
for highly hazardous, II for moderately hazardous and III for slightly
The Plant and Protection law of the country strictly prohibits
distribution of class 1a and 1b in the local market, a breach of which,
could attract a fine of between Tsh.10 million to Tsh. 100million, or
three years in prison, the TPRI Pesticide Registrar, Jonathan Akhabuhaya,
Medical doctors, agricultural officers and police officers, among
others, were among the pesticide stakeholders, who converged at the
institute for two days since Monday to jointly devise a surveillance
system for acute pesticide poisoning in small and large scale farms.
TPRI Principal Research Scientist, Dr Vera Ngowi, earlier told the
meeting participants that a case study conducted in coffee growing
regions of the country between 1980 and 1990 revealed that an average of
62 poisoning cases were recorded in hospitals per year, most of which
being suicidal ones.
"Research findings revealed that 80 per cent of health care providers in
agricultural areas reported to have seen or attended pesticide poisoning
victims in the past 12 months, but only one per cent could distinguish
the different groups of pesticides used in their working area," she
Without proper knowledge, pesticide groups' diagnosis and treatment of
pesticide poisoning would become a trial and error, thus costing
people's lives, she cautioned. She stressed that though suicidal,
homicidal and accident pesticide poisoning cases were underreported,
they constituted a burden to the government and the people.
Toxicity of pesticides, which interfere with nerves, enzymes and a
variety of other biological systems, has diverse health effects,
including systemic poisoning and topical lesions produced by a number of
chemical compositions in each pesticide.
Pesticides, according to Dr Ngowi may cause respiratory, immunological,
neurological and developmental effects as well as reproductive
dysfunction and cancer.