Tackling pesticide misuse in an entertaining way for sustainable crop protection

A brief background

In crop protection, synthetic pesticides serve as a quick tool to combat field and domestic pests. Their use has however been accompanied with numerous cases of misuse in several parts of the world. In developed countries like Nigeria where I live, cases of pesticide misuse have become rampant due to the absence of sustained public awareness on their inherent danger. Powered by the prevailing poverty in such regions, this dearth of information continues to promote dangerous activities like the addition of pesticides into rivers to catch fish; field spraying pesticides without protective covering; application of overdose; grain treatment with toxic pesticides and reuse of ‘washed’ pesticide containers for domestic purposes. This situation is particularly worrisome because young adults in developing countries are the main culprits. There is therefore no gainsaying that when we tackle pesticide misuse in our society we contribute towards the sustainability of crop protection.

Approach does matter!

I have observed that various stakeholders concerned with ensuring safe use of pesticides have largely focused their pesticide-use awareness programs on organized groups like farmers, pesticide marketers etc. They do this through workshops occasionally held in a few selected agrarian communities. I am of the opinion that this approach is limiting because it excludes the vast majority of rural and urban dwellers, especially youth, who are not directly involved in agriculture but who regularly buy and apply pesticides in their homes, stores and elsewhere for pest control. This explains why the current method has consistently failed to solve the problem of pesticide misuse. It fails because it has failed to sensitize everyone especially young people! I believe pesticide misuse is everybody’s problem and not just the rural farmer’s. I therefore propose public awareness strategies that sensitize the general public on the dangers of pesticide misuse using existing rural and urban entertainment platforms such as community or school drama groups, popular sitcoms and radio dramas, social media, caller tunes etc. My idea aims to solve a social issue by creating awareness using an entertainment-based approach.

A young farm worker in Nigeria sprays herbicides on a farm prior to planting without protective clothing

Who cares and who benefits?

Government ministries, international organizations, pesticide companies and other bodies concerned with the safe use of pesticides for agricultural and non-agricultural purposes all have a stake in the success of this idea. Everyone who directly or indirectly handles pesticides or is likely to come in contact with them in the environment will also benefit.

How will the idea work?

The first step is to identify suitable entertainment platforms in a community or target area on which pesticide misuse awareness can be done. The awareness messages will then be incorporated into the selected entertainment platform through social appeal, partial sponsorship or other collaborative approaches. For example, organizations concerned with safe pesticide use may identify a popular sitcom in an urban community through which viewers may be sensitized on the dangers of wrong pesticide handling and incorrect disposal, over dose etc. Similarly, popular musicians may be identified and encouraged to incorporate or compose safe pesticide-use awareness into their songs which can be used as caller tunes. Furthermore, YouTubers with social channels can be approached and encouraged to create awareness on pesticide misuse through videos with URL links shared on other social media platforms for wider reach. On the other hand, rural communities without access to technology can be sensitized on pesticide misuse through platforms like as community, school or religious drama groups, and local radio dramas.

What makes the idea sustainable?

This idea of using entertainment to create public awareness on pesticide misuse in the rural and urban communities is a sustainable one. Firstly, the lifestyle of the target audience will not be disrupted in any way because the proposed approach for awareness will be incorporated into their normal daily routine. Secondly, more diverse groups of people will be consistently reached within a short time at a relatively cheaper cost compared to current approaches. As long as stakeholders regularly sustain all established collaborations with identified entertainment platforms, right information on safe pesticide use will be regularly disseminated to people wherever they live. In other words, sustainability of the approach firmly lies in the ability of all stakeholders to leverage on existing entertainment platforms in the rural and urban areas.

Impact! Impact! Impact!

The idea has immense potentials for impact especially in countries where pesticide misuse cases are rampant. Impact will be mainly in the form of increased knowledge on safe pesticide handling and a positive change in pesticide-use habits and attitudes. These behavioral changes will in turn reduce the numerous cases of food, water and air contamination by pesticides as well as the illnesses and deaths they cause in the society. Evaluation of impact can simply be achieved through periodic surveys of how the approach has reduced pesticide misuse and the attendant health and environmental problems in target communities.

I’m fired up!

I am particularly motivated by this idea because it holds the promise of solving one of the important problems associated with pesticide use in a sustainable way. Inherent in the idea is the possibility of every rural and urban pesticide user having regular access to safe pesticide use information which they can use to make informed choices necessary for the protection of their health and environment. I am excited by this possibility, and yes I’m fired up!

Olusegun Adebayo Ojumoola, Nigeria

252 comments

  1. Good article! Sensitisation on Organic farming is a major tool to assuage the problem of chemical herbicide misuse .

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  2. The method and approach proposed is unique.
    This message is time because of the indiscriminate use of insecticide in the preservation of food crops which is detrimental to our health directly or indirectly.

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  3. Quite insightful, will appreciate if you can incorporate the use of pesticide in suicide cases, this should be included in the awareness… Great write up, kudos

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  4. Awesome! With prevalent pesticide abuse in our environment, and the apparent need to advocate safe use of pesticides, the thoughts in this write is is very germane.

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  5. Entertainment is one of the best ways to disseminate useful information in this dispensation. Such a laudable article, it tells that a lot of brain work has gone into it. Well done.

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  6. informative article. hoping our country will harness the information this article portrays for the development of her people.

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  7. Interesting article, very informative and educative. Sensitisation of all, in both rural and ubarn environment is highly needed to put an end to the effects of misuse of pesticides on human health.

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  8. Nice article sir sensitisation in both rural and urban areas on d misuse of pesticides and its proper follow up will give the farmers adequate information needed on the do’s and don’ts of pesticides to avoid food contamination,dermal irritation and what a view.

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  9. Good article! Sensitisation on Organic farming is a major tool to assuage the problem of chemical herbicide misuse .

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  10. A great point of view, if country like Nigeria could make use of an idea like this, it would be of great help in our agricultural sector in terms of development and productivity, if someone like Oluwasegun is elected for minister of agricultural, it would be of great impact to agricultural sector , thanks

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  11. What more can be said. This write-up has addressed everything to know about the injudicious use of synthetic pesticide. Great piece of work!

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  12. This is very informative. Public awareness is very essential and is definitely the way to go. Good job.

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  13. This is lovely I love the way it’s presented nice , elegant,brave, perplexing ,sagacity this is absolutely nice I love this

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  14. It is truly an important approach to solving the misuse of pesticides especially by local uneducated farmers. With the increasing power of the media, inculcating entertainment based approach promises so much positive feed backs. Really great idea!

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