Information, pesticide safety behaviors, and toxicity risk perceptions evidence from Zambia and Mozambique
Goeb, J., Smart, J., Snyder, J., and Tschirley, D. (2022). "Information, pesticide safety behaviors, and toxicity risk perceptions: Evidence from Zambia and Mozambique." IFPRI Discussion Paper 2118.
Purpose: Pesticide safety is a growing global concern particularly in developing countries as farmers increase their use of toxic pesticides that can negatively affect farmer and environmental health. Previous literature recommends improving farmer access to information to boost productivity, sustainability, and safety behaviors but has little to say on which information sources have the greatest impacts. This paper explores the relationships between information from different sources and toxicity knowledge and safety behaviors using an innovative metric of exposure.
Data: This study uses regression analysis of data from 877 horticultural producers serving markets in Maputo, Mozambique and Lusaka, Zambia.
Findings: Formal extension advice is limited, and farmers rely heavily on their social networks for information. High-level messages of pesticide health risks and safety practices are effectively being communicated through formal methods of government extension, NGOs and even private agro-dealer networks. However, information through social networks appears to do a better job of communicating more nuanced messages of pesticide toxicities and varied health risks by toxicity class.
Practical implications: Farmers need reliable pesticide information to increase crop production while minimizing risks. This study shows that efforts should be taken to increase farmer trust in formal extension channels, and that social networks should be leveraged improve dissemination of pesticide information . Originality: Despite a consensus that more information needs to reach farmers to improve their pesticide safety practices, this paper is one of the few studies that explores the relationships between different information sources and behaviors and perceptions. We construct novel metrics of toxicity knowledge and safety behavior.