Multi-stakeholder pesticide conference held in Accra

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Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, the Chair of the Ghana National Biodiversity Committee has asked researchers to intensify studies into the use of biological approaches to combat pests and diseases in the cocoa sector.

He explained that, by nature’s design, pests and diseases often have natural enemies that could be used to inhibit or control them.

Speaking at a multi-stakeholder pesticide conference in Accra, Prof Oteng-Yeboah, said the use of biological techniques was one of the most reliable ways to address the excessive use of synthetic pesticides in agriculture, particularly in the cocoa sector.

The conference, jointly organized by Conservation Alliance, Send Ghana and Inkota was under the theme, “Human Rights and Environmental Issues of Pesticide Use in Cocoa Production Landscape of Ghana”.

Prof Oteng-Yeboah stated that if farmers must use pesticides for any reason, they must do so with caution so that they do not harm the environment, expose themselves to danger, or impair the quality of the cocoa beans.

“Pesticides have chemicals especially when they do not originate from that environment. It takes a long time to go, that is why farmers need to minimize its use,” he said.

Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) in a statement delivered on his behalf said South Africa, Ghana, and Cameroon were the biggest consumers of pesticides in Africa.

He said it was common knowledge that the use of pesticide for cocoa production had inherent challenges and effects.

“The critical contribution of cocoa as Ghana’s main cash crop and agriculture cannot be over-emphasized. In 2022, cocoa in Ghana was forecast to contribute Ghs3.41 billion, around USD$454 million to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he said.

According to Dr. Afriyie, the incorrect use of pesticide could harm human health, the environment, and economies that are dependent on farmers’ produce.

“Other concerns include over reliance on pesticides including weak enforcement of laws governing the production, distribution, promotion, and use of pesticides,” he said.

Dr. Afriyie said a recent study found that while farmers claimed adequate pesticide knowledge, it did not translate into practice, with the majority engaging in poor pesticide storage, application, and disposal.

“Farmers appeared to know a lot but lacked the skills and attitude to put their knowledge to use,” he said.

The Minister commended the Conservation Alliance (CA) and other industry players for their ongoing community education initiatives on the socioecological risks of using unapproved pesticides.

Dr Yaw Osei-Owusu, Executive Director of CA said although pesticides helped farmers to produce safe, high-quality foods at reasonable prices, they had serious effects for human health and the environment.

“This is the only reason we cannot continue to overlook the continued dependence of pesticides, especially the unapproved ones, any longer,” he said.

GNA

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