Regulatory agencies in the country are being challenged to do more to enforce the Pesticide Control Law to help rid the country of fake and expired agro chemicals.
The Pesticide Control and Management Act requires the hiring of pesticide inspectors to check the quality of agro chemicals on the market.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture are supposed to coordinate its enforcement.
But Crop Life Ghana, the umbrella body for chemical importers in the country says failure to enforce the law has allowed thousands of tonnes of such chemicals onto the market, some of which they are struggling to re-export.
Crop Life Ghana has collected more than 180 metric tonnes of such chemicals from farming communities and chemical importing companies for re-export to Europe for destruction at huge costs.
There are no high temperature incinerators in Ghana for their safe destruction, hence the move.
Programmes Manager of Crop Life Ghana, Fredrick Boampong says more should be done to prevent such chemicals from coming into Ghana in the first place.
“Most of these obsolete chemicals come in through our porous borders, and they end up in our border towns. Though we have done extensive work in collecting most of them across the country, we still have some around,” Mr. Boampong told Joy news.
“I believe the regulatory agencies should try and enforce the law. If they are able to enforce the law, it should not be a problem in the first place…There are pesticide inspectors but they are not as effective as they are supposed to be in the farming communities,” he added.
When used by farmers, such chemicals have the potential to damage crops. Crops sprayed with expired chemicals endanger the health of both farmers and consumers of such foods.
Mr. Boampong says Crop Life Ghana will continue to work with its partners to retrieve and re-export more of such chemicals out of the country for destruction.
Commenting on the issue, General Secretary of the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union Kingsley Offei Nkansah said the sure way to deal with the problem is for farmers to be given in-depth education on agro chemicals.
Something agric extension officers are best placed to do. He is thus concerned government’s lack of investment in agric extension is making farmers vulnerable to the use of such chemicals.
It is estimated that the ratio of extension agents to farmers in Ghana is one to one thousand.
“We need to have lifelong learning for all farmers. Otherwise they will be victims…. It’s unfortunate that government is slowly reducing the number of extension officers… because the person selling the chemicals is just doing business,” Mr. Offei Nkansah told Joy news. He said the problem has been compounded by the fact that extension agents were under-resourced and without adequate logistics to work effectively.