Pesticide usage and occupational hazards among farmers working in small-scale tomato farms in Cameroon

Tambe, Ayuk B. ; Mbanga, Baleba M. R. ; Nzefa, Dapi L. ; Nama, Medoua G. (2019-06-18)

CITATION: Tambe, A. B., et al. 2019. Pesticide usage and occupational hazards among farmers working in small-scale tomato farms in Cameroon. Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association, 94:20, doi:10.1186/s42506-019-0021-x.

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Background: Agriculture is undoubtedly the backbone of the Cameroonian economy, and other economic activities thrive only if production in this sector is assured. It has been estimated that approximately 25 million agricultural workers worldwide experience unintentional pesticide poisoning yearly. Unfortunately, limited information exists about the health and safety of the farmers. The aim of this study was to describe the occupational health and safety (OHS) conditions of farmers working on small-scale tomato farms in the western region of Cameroon. A cross-sectional research method was used to collect data from tomato farmers in May 2017, using a questionnaire developed by the research team. Results: A total of 104 tomato farmers from small-scale farms participated in the study. The analysis revealed that the occupation is male-dominated (86.5%). The training and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) among farmers were rare (35.6%), and farmers were mostly exposed to chemical hazards. The farmers reported the following workrelated health problems: skin irritation, backache, impairment of the central nervous system (CNS), visual problems, and respiratory difficulties. Conclusions: The OHS conditions on small-scale tomato farms are mostly poor, thus predisposing farmers to the risk of work-related health problems. Exposure to occupational hazards can be significantly reduced if the required PPE are available and efficiently used.

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