ASSESSMENT OF PESTICIDE USE AND APPLICATION PRACTICES IN TOMATO BASED AGROSYSTEMS IN KALILUNI SUB LOCATION, KATHIANI DISTRICT, KENYA
Keywords:Pesticides, carbamates, pyrethroid, dimethoate, Kathiani, Agrosystems, tomatoes
Pesticides are of great benefit to agriculture in Kenya by decreasing crop losses due to insects, weeds, plant diseases, rodents and other pests. They also save lives through control of disease carrying insects and increase the quality and quantity of agricultural produce. However, pesticides are poisons and can affect human health and contaminate the environment. This paper reports on the findings of an assessment of pesticide use, application and practices in Kaliluni, Kathiani district in Kenya. The dominant activity in the area is intensive irrigated tomato farming for local and other markets. Due to the sensitivity of the crop to pests invasion and abrupt changes in temperature pesticides and other agrochemicals are in rampant usage. The area has over 400 households that engage in tomato farming. A total of 72 households were involved in a cross‐sectional survey to assess the pesticides usage, frequency of application, in small holder tomato production. Structured pre‐tested questionnaires were administered through personal interviews and focused group discussion among the tomato farmers in the study site. The aim of the study was to establish whether banned or restricted pesticides were still in use. The study showed that the pesticides used in the region include pyrethroids, organophosphates and carbamates. It was found that 36.8% of the respondents used and applied pyrethroid formulated pesticides while 31.5 % applied carbamate based pesticides. It was also found that some respondents used more than one pesticide in one application. The study also showed that 26.4% of the respondents applied Dithane M45 (fungicide) as their main pesticide while 13%, 12% and 12% used Karate (insecticide), Ridomil (fungicide) and Bestox (insecticide) respectively. Surprisingly 1.9% of the respondents used and applied Dimethoate (insecticide) whose use has been restricted for use in fruits and vegetables while 0.5% used and applied Mocap (insecticide) which has also been banned. The farmers who used the banned chemicals claimed that they were more effective than the other pesticides. On the frequency of application of pesticides, the study showed that 86.1% of the respondents used pesticides on weekly basis whereas 12.5% apply fortnightly. The study therefore recommend that strict measures be taken to safeguard the environment and human health by the enforcing the law on use of pesticides.