Using pesticides safely



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Spot 1

Attention farmers! A pesticide is a substance that is intended to prevent, destroy, or repel pests, or reduce the destructive effects of pests.

Before managing pests, farmers should correctly identify the target pest in order to decide on the kind of pesticide to buy, for example, an insecticide, fungicide, or herbicide.

When buying pesticides, be alert. Watch out for expired or fake products. Some chemicals are too old to use and won’t be effective. Some containers look like pesticides, but don’t contain the real thing. Make sure the seal on the container is intact to avoid buying a fake product. Read the label carefully! It gives you warnings and directions for proper use. It should also have a certification stamp that shows the pesticide is approved by the government.

Do you have questions about a product? Call our studio line. Our farm broadcasters and agricultural experts will be happy to assist you! [insert radio station phone line]


Spot 2

Farmers! It’s vital that you choose the right spraying equipment. Here are six tips to remember.


First, use knapsack sprayers for annual crops and mist blowers for tree crops.

Second, choose the right nozzle for the job. Use hollow cone nozzles for insecticides and fungicides and use reflex, deflector, flood, or anvil nozzles for herbicides. Why? Because hollow cone nozzles spray smaller droplets, which are better at targeting insects or fungi. Anvil nozzles spray bigger droplets for weeds.


Third, check your spraying equipment and repair any leaks.

Fourth, make sure the straps of the spraying equipment are in good condition.

Fifth, ensure that spray tank sieves are in place to remove particles from spray water and avoid blocking the nozzle.

And finally, make sure you wear all necessary PPE, or personal protective equipment. This includes goggles, a mask, rubber gloves, rubber boots, and a cotton overall that covers your arms and legs.


Spot 3


Did you know that the best time to spray your crops with pesticides is in the early morning or the late evening?

Never spray pesticides when the sun is strong. That’s when bees are the most active—and bees pollinate many crops! Never spray when it’s windy or rainy. And never spray close to a river or a lake, because the chemicals can contaminate the water, make people sick, and kill fish and other aquatic creatures.



Spot 4

My son, now that you are 18 years old, it’s time you learned how to use pesticides—and most important, how to use them safely! We’ll start today. Now, go get dressed!


(LAUGHS) What are you wearing?

This is my protective gear! What’s so funny?

That helmet won’t protect you—unless you drop the bottle of pesticide on your head! You must take this seriously. For pesticides, it’s important to protect your whole body.

What should I wear?

You were right to cover your head—but you should use a hat or a piece of cloth instead. It’s important to block the pesticides so you don’t breathe them in. There’s a special respirator mask designed for this job. You should also wear goggles that fit tightly, don’t steam up, so you don’t get chemicals in your eyes. Finally, wear a cotton overall that covers your arms and legs and a pair of rubber gloves and rubber boots. Don’t tuck in the trousers and make sure all your protective gear is washable. It may be hot, but it’s the safest way!

Pesticide safety is for everyone. But spraying pesticides is only for adults! Teach your older children about the personal protective equipment they need to wear when spraying pesticides on your crops.



Spot 5

Sounds of children playing

(Breathless) Hey! Hey!!!


Where did you get that plastic container?

We found it in the field. We’re using it to make boats on the river.

You must never play with this container. It’s a pesticide container and it has lots of bad chemicals inside that could make you sick or contaminate the river!

But we rinsed it well!

Even if you scrubbed it well with soap, there can still be traces of poison inside. That’s why we never re-use these containers! I have an old water jug you can use instead.

Attention farmers! Do NOT re-use pesticide containers. And never leave them around where children can find them! Triple rinse the containers after using and spray the rinse water on the crops. Don’t pour the rinse water on the ground or in running water.

Do NOT burn the containers because the smoke can cause health problems. Do not bury empty pesticide containers in the ground. Triple rinse and destroy empty pesticide containers immediately after use by punching or poking holes in them. Send the destroyed pesticide containers to your municipal or district waste site, if available. You can also contact the Environmental Protection Agency in your country to properly dispose of large numbers of empty pesticide containers.



Spot 6

Attention farmers! There are TWO important precautions you need to pay attention to on pesticide labels:

The first is the re-entry interval. This is the number of days you must wait after spraying before going into the field again. If you enter the field too soon, you may expose yourself to harmful chemicals. It’s a good idea to erect signs that inform people about the safe re-entry interval.

The second is the pre-harvest interval. This is the number of days you must wait before harvesting food from the sprayed area. If you or someone you sell to consumes the food too early, it may still contain toxic chemicals.

Remember the re-entry interval and the pre-harvest interval. And never spray any pesticides without reading and understanding the label first!



Spot 7

Farmers should always adopt integrated pest management practices such as hand-picking, intercropping and crop rotation, or biological or botanical pesticides before spraying harmful pesticides. But sometimes pests are so bad that chemicals are the only solution. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture recommends a variety of products against crop pests. Talk to your local agricultural extension agent or phone our studio line to speak to our farmer program host about the safest and most effective and affordable products available.

Alternative ending for stations outside of project: Before using any pesticide product, always read the label for directions and use. Every pesticide container should have a certification stamp that shows it’s approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in your country.



Spot 8

How do you clean the clothes you wear when you spray pesticide? Did you know that you should never mix those clothes with other laundry? That’s because protective clothing such as coveralls, gloves, and hats need to be handled carefully. They must be washed separately from other household laundry and they should always be washed OUTSIDE.

First, empty all the pockets and cuffs. Dispose of any clothing that has been drenched in pesticides. Wash the contaminated clothing, including socks and undergarments, the SAME DAY it was worn for spraying. Hang up the washed clothing on a line outdoors—it’s safe to wear again once it’s dry!



Spot 9

One, two, three, four! Here are four important tips about storing pesticides safely to reduce the risks to humans, animals, and the environment:

One: don’t stock up with more pesticide than you need. Limit the amounts and types you store.

Two: separate dry pesticides and liquid pesticides to prevent contamination from spills and leaks.

Three: store pesticides in a separate and secure area away from your home, and away from animal housing or public spaces. If possible, the pesticide store should be locked.

Four: don’t store any other products in the same area as your pesticides.

Remember these four tips! Spray safely! Stay safe!



Spot 10

Pesticides can be effective—but they’re also poisonous! Exposure to pesticides can cause dangerous health risks, including birth defects, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. One of the most important ways to keep safe is to follow the pre-harvest interval. This is the number of days you must wait AFTER spraying your crops BEFORE you begin harvesting. The pre-harvest interval can be different for different kinds of pesticides. So always read the label or ask an agricultural extension agent before using pesticides on your farm. Protect yourself, your family, and your community!



Spot 11

Are you a farm labourer? Has your employer asked you to spray pesticides? Be careful! Pesticides can be extremely dangerous to human health if they are not handled properly. Before spraying pesticides, make sure you are wearing proper protective equipment. This includes a respirator mask, two layers of long-sleeved shirts, two layers of long pants, rubber gloves, rubber boots, goggles, and a hat. You may be hot and uncomfortable, but these items will keep you safe and protect you from harmful pesticides. Talk to your employer about safety measures on the farm and never accept any job that puts you at risk.




Contributed by: Maxine Betteridge-Moes, freelance journalist and former Broadcaster Resources Advisor with Farm Radio International

Reviewed by: Ebenezer Aboagye, Head of Crop Pest and Diseases Management Division, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana

Information sources

Farm Radio International, 2018. Using chemical pesticides safely: The case of Fall armyworm in Ethiopia.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2016. Pesticides – Working Safely.

This resource is brought to you by the Market Oriented Agriculture Programme (MOAP). MOAP is implemented by GIZ, in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and it is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)