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Script 83.4

Notes to broadcasters

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Farmers sometimes use pesticides to control pests. They also use synthetic fertilizers to improve crop yield. The types of pesticides used by farmers include avicides for bird pests, insecticides for insect pests, fungicides for plant diseases, herbicides for weeds, and rodenticides for pests such as rats, mice, and rabbits. When not carefully used, chemicals and fertilizers are harmful to human health, and even deadly. According to a recent World Bank report, an estimated 350,000 people die every year from pesticide poisoning. The following radio spots advise farmers on how to use agricultural pesticides and fertilizers safely.

These spots can be separated by musical interludes, and used together in a series. Or they can stand alone and be played separately, at different times of the day, week or month.

For further information on using pesticides and fertilizers safely, consult the information sources at the end of the script. You might want to find out if farmers in your listening area have had accidents with farm chemicals. Or you could ask doctors and other health professionals in your community if they have treated farmers with symptoms of pesticide poisoning, and whether they have particular advice for farmers. Farm chemicals can be wonderful tools, but they are very dangerous if not used with great care.

Script

Spot # 1: It is dangerous to store fertilizers and foods in the same place

This is the sad story of Ahungur. Ahungur kept powdered fertilizer and salt in her kitchen. When she returned from the farm for the day, tired and worn out, Ahungur cooked soup to eat with pounded yam tubers for the family. She tasted the soup to make sure it was just right. Not finding it tasty enough, she reached for more salt to really give the soup an extra boost. By mistake, Ahungur fetched urea, the white crystalline powdery fertilizer which she had placed in the same corner of the kitchen where she kept the salt. Family members who ate the food died, including Ahungur. This was a costly mistake, and the whole village was saddened. Farm chemicals are very useful, but must be treated with care. Don’t take chances. It is dangerous to store farm fertilizers or chemicals in the kitchen. Keep them in a cool and dark place. Prevention is better than cure.

Spot # 2: Be careful! Prevent pesticide harm to health

Be careful! Pesticides are useful, but nearly all pesticides are toxic. This means that they can injure or kill humans, domestic animals, and plants, if not carefully handled. Remember that crops which are sprayed with pesticides will be eaten by people and animals. Always read labels and use recommended doses to avoid serious side effects. Follow label instructions which tell you how long you must wait between the last application of pesticide and the harvesting, preservation and use of food. Be careful with farm chemicals and fertilizers! It’s the only way to stay safe.

Spot # 3: Protect your household and your community when working with farm chemicals

When you use chemicals on your farm, always wear the right clothing, including gloves and a noserag. You may have been using farm chemicals for years, and nothing has happened to you. But toxic substances, such as chemicals, can accumulate in the body and affect your health in the future if you do not apply them properly. Keep children and animals far away from pesticides and other chemicals. Children must never apply pesticides. Burn or bury empty containers, so that the leftovers do not emit bad odours or poison children or animals. Never store pesticides in water bottles or food containers. Do not spray farm chemicals into the wind. When spraying, cover your nose with a rag and cover your mouth with cotton cloth so you can breathe freely without inhaling the chemicals. After using chemicals, wash your hands and face before eating or drinking. If you follow these guidelines, you can receive the full benefit of chemicals on your farm, and avoid the dangers.

Spot # 4: Don’t eat animals which have been killed by chemicals

TERKAA:
Mkav, yesterday was good at my farm.

MFE:
What happened?

TERKAA:
(Pleased with himself) Thirty-seven spotted guinea fowls met instant death for trespassing on my groundnut crop.

MFE:
How did that happen?

TERKAA:
They ate the groundnut seeds. But they didn’t know that I had mixed the seeds with chemicals. So the chemicals killed 37 of them.

MFE:
That is a lesson for them.

TERKAA:
And plenty of meat for me.

MFE:
How …?

TERKAA:
I prepared them immediately. They are now drying on the hearth.

MFE:
What for?

TERKAA:
They will one by one become permanent guests in my belly, until they become waste in the family toilet.

MFE:
Don’t try it! Did you not listen to the public health announcement on the radio saying, “Don’t eat any animal killed with chemicals”? The chemical left in the dead tissue of the birds could poison and kill you!

TERKAA:
Is that so?

MFE:
Do you have a dog, Terkaa?

TERKAA:
Yes … why?

MFE:
Dogs can also be poisoned by the meat. Please tell your neighbours you have mixed the seed with chemicals. And, if animals are killed by chemicals, bury them in the soil.

TERKAA:
(Downcast) From today on, I will never eat the meat of an animal killed with chemicals.

MFE:
That’s right. It is safer not to eat it.

Spot # 5 Protect water sources when using pesticides

As a farmer, you are probably aware that pesticides leave undesirable residues which damage the environment. Pesticides can leach out of the soil and be washed into lakes and rivers, and from there into the ocean. There, they can poison fish, crabs, crayfish, lobsters, shrimps and other aquatic creatures. Never let pesticides, chemicals and human faeces move into water sources. If you’re careful, these water sources will stay clean for life.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Sachia Ngutsav, Radio Benue, Nigeria.

Reviewed by: Girma Hailu, PhD, Agricultural Entomologist, Consultant.

Information Sources

  • Falusi A. O. & Adeleye, 1998. Agricultural Science for Schools and Colleges. Ibadan: Onibonoje Press.
  • Agishi C.E., 2003. A Dictionary of Agriculture. Makurdi Agib Pub. Ltd. International Labour Organization, 1991.Safety and Health in the Use of Agrochemicals: A Guide