EVALUATION OF THE LEVEL OF AWARENESS ON SAFE USE OF HERBICIDES BY TEA GROWERS IN BOMET COUNTY,KENYA
Keywords:Herbicides, Camellia sinensis, glyphosate, training, safe use, awareness.
Herbicides play a major role in crop protection and control of vector borne diseases in all agricultural sectors. This study was carried out to evaluate the level of awareness on safe use of herbicides by tea growers in the catchments of Kapkoros and Tirgaga tea factories in Bomet County, Kenya. A pre tested questionnaire was used with the adoption of purposive and stratified random sampling methods to collect primary data from 363 respondents in all the six tea growing zones. Secondary data was collected from health centres in the study area and data analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Most of the tea growers (52%, n=363) preferred to use an herbicide with glyphosate formulation called round up in varying degrees. There was significant statistical difference between the preferred herbicide and the years of tea growing (χ2 =17.03, p<0.05 n=362).The study show that 80.2% of the respondents in the area read the herbicide labels before use. Majority of the tea growers (90.4%) use Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) when handling herbicides. Before or after the use of herbicides, most respondents stored them in stores (99.6%).On accidental contact with herbicides,
86.2% adopt to washing their bodies with water while 13.2 % visit a doctor and 0.06% just wipe the herbicides from their bodies. There was significant statistical difference between the frequency of herbicides use and the economic benefits of using herbicide (χ2 = 64.869, p <0.05, n=362).
The study found that 22.9% of the tea growers have not received any training. Of the trained, 44.9% were found not to have been trained on herbicide handling. The study showed that most cases of intoxication were accidental (70%) and first aid was administered before one is taken to the hospital. It was also found that the level of intoxication were mostly mild (80%) which was mainly due to inhalation (80%) of the chemicals while those from ingestion and contact were 20% and 10% respectively.
In most of the reported case of intoxication, the study found that victims (50%) do not know the dangers associated with improper use, whereas 30% were completely ignorant and a paltry 20% had some knowledge of intoxication. It is therefore recommended that training of tea growers in Bomet County on proper use of herbicides be improved by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and other relevant authorities so as to help minimise the negative impacts associated with improper use.