Economic Characteristics, Agrochemical Use and Health Risk Among Grenadian Farmers
Background: Agrochemicals are commonly used in the Caribbean islands, however, the relationships between the use of the chemicals and health outcomes have not been studied extensively. Previous studies primarily focused on farmers’ use of personal protective equipment while handling agrochemicals. The authors conducted this first study in Grenada to investigate the relationships between the characteristics of farmers, use of agrochemicals, and health risk.
Method: The cross-sectional study investigated the relationships between the characteristics of 8868 farmers in the 2012 agriculture census in Grenada and the use of three agrochemical ingredients. Logistic regression analysis generated odds ratio indicting the likelihood of farmers experiencing health problems based on the use of the chemicals.
Results: Farm labor and market presence were found to be the most critical factors that influenced the used of agrochemicals and greater odds of experiencing health problems. The odds ratio was >6 and statistically significant for having ever used agrochemicals by farmers who hired non-household workers and farmers who paid farm workers. Having experienced production issues, receiving technical assistance, not receiving credit and farm located in St. John, the second poorest parish and fishing capital of Grenada were found to be protective factors.
Conclusion: Commercial activities that have direct bearing on expenditure and income were found to have the most significant influence on farmers' use of agrochemicals and increased risk of health problems. To address this public health issue, farmers must be given the support to produce safe and healthy foods without compromising their own health. Policies must be developed to provide for incentives and restrictions to improve stewardship in the use of agrochemicals. Finally, education and other interventions are also necessary to increase farmers’ awareness and to build and support capacity to address the issue at all ecological levels.
Lindonne Glasgow*, David Anderson and German Gonzalez