Assessment of pesticide hazard related knowledge and practices of agricultural extension workers in small-scale horticulture production areas in Ethiopia.
There is a recent expansion of modern agriculture in Ethiopia that resulted in intensification of chemical pesticide use. Due to an inherent hazard of pesticides to the environment and human health they need to be properly used, handled and managed. Agriculture extension workers (AEWs) are supposed to give advices on pesticides hazards so as risks due to pesticide use is minimized. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was done by purposively sampling 69 AEWs in horticultural production districts of central eastern Ethiopia. The overall objective of the survey was assessing levels of pesticide hazard related knowledge and related practices of AEWs. More than 90 % of the surveyed AEWs have a diploma or lower level of education. 26% and 29 % of the AEWs reported attaining a course and participating in an on job training in relation to pesticide hazards. 7 % and 11 % of the interviewed AEWs mention modern methods of pesticide controls i.e. organic farming and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, respectively. 22 % of the AEWs indicate they usually give advises on pesticide hazards in general. Similarly 20% and 11% of the AEWs remarked providing advises on proper storage and disposal as well as occupational exposure prevention methods of pesticides to farmers, respectively. This study underlines a relatively lower educational level of AEWs who do not have enough pesticide hazard related knowledge and cannot or not practically advising on pesticide related hazards. AEWs should have continuous on job capacity building training on pesticide hazards in order to minimize environmental and occupational risks due to the intensifying chemical pesticide use in Ethiopian agriculture. Keywords: Ethiopia; extension workers; knowledge; pesticides hazards