By Olimatou Coker
The acting executive director of National Environment Agency has revealed that the use of harmful pesticides by farmers can expose them to health risk which could have severe consequences.
Momodou Jama Suwareh said this recently during a daylong inception stakeholders’ workshop for a pilot project on monitoring of severely hazardous pesticides formulation at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Bijilo.
The workshop was organized by National Environment Agency in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and attended by participants from across the country.
“The Gambia is a typical agricultural country with over 70% of the work force engaged in the agriculture sector. Farmers depend on heavy use of pesticides to ward off pests and enhance production and productivity.
“During use of these pesticides most farmers do not observe preventive measures and are therefore exposed to health risks and hence the need to monitor the health and environmental impacts of these pesticides,” he said.
He said the exercise is part of FAO’s global project of strengthening of capacities to monitor and report severely hazardous pesticides formulations (SHPFs), whose main objective is to assist parties in their efforts to meet their obligations in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention and specifically, to strengthen capacities to monitor and report on SHPFs.
He added that the Gambia is one of the few countries in the sub-region to benefit from this grant which is aimed at building capacities to identify and raise awareness of particularly hazardous pesticides and practices in order to strengthen community responses and regulatory decisions with respect to the risk from SHPFs.
The program was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization and speaking at the forum, the country representative of FAO, Perpetua Katepa Kalala, said The Gambia is putting lots of efforts towards resilience building against the impacts of climate change and variability amongst its increasing population, through the promotion of increased agricultural production and productivity for food security, improved nutrition, and poverty alleviation.