Showing pesticides’ true colors: The effects of a farmer-to-farmer training program on pesticide knowledge.
February 1, 2021 - Author: Joseph Goeb, Frank Lupi
Goeb, J., & Lupi, F. (2021). Showing pesticides’ true colors: The effects of a farmer-to-farmer training program on pesticide knowledge. Journal of Environmental Management, 279, 111821.
Information plays an important role in technology adoption and behavior change. This may be particularly true for pesticide decisions, which affect farmer income, health, and the environment. Pesticide use is increasing, and farmers often have incomplete knowledge of how pesticides affect crop production and health. Researchers regularly recommend information interventions to improve pesticide knowledge. This study uses a randomized controlled trial of a pesticide training program in Zambia to identify the effects of information on farmer knowledge of both the health risks and the production benefits of pesticides. We use detailed knowledge assessments covering identification and interpretation of toxicity color labels, pest control properties, and exposure to reveal a more complete picture of pesticide knowledge and to identify where information can have the greatest impact. Our results show that training significantly improved farmer knowledge, particularly for the more complicated pesticide characteristics that are harder to learn from experience. We also find that more experienced farmers had worse prior knowledge of pesticide toxicity, though they also had larger increases from training. Overall, our results suggest that pesticide information interventions should focus on the pest control properties of pesticides and on showing pesticides’ true colors through toxicity identification by color labels.