Stakeholders in the cocoa value chain believe that highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) pose grave dangers to cocoa farmers, their families, and communities in Ghana and across West Africa.
In Ghana, pesticides are used by most farmers to boost and increase production of food and crop yields.
However, overuse and improper use of chemical pesticides are having adverse effects on the environment, human health, and social capital.
In a communique to the media, both state and non-state actors agreed that though pesticide use boosts cocoa production in the short term, the persistent misuse of pesticides adversely poses great risks to the health of farmers and the environment in the long term.
Read the full communique below:
For Immediate Release: 26TH SEPTEMBER, 2023.
FINAL COMMUNIQUE ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES OF PESTICIDE USE IN COCOA PRODUCTION LANDSCAPE OF GHANA
26TH SEPTEMBER, 2023
We, the participants (both state and non-state actors) having met at a conference on human rights and environmental issues of pesticide use in the cocoa production landscape of Ghana on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, hosted by Conservation Alliance International, SEND Ghana, and INKOTA Network at the Holiday Inn in Accra, discussed extensively some crucial issues within the country’s cocoa sector and note that the following to inform policy discussions on pesticides usage:
- A large majority of cocoa farmers in Ghana are reliant on chemical pesticides, as they are often cheaper and less labour-intensive than non-chemical pesticides for addressing pest and disease incidence.
- Some of the unapproved pesticides used contain active ingredients classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as highly hazardous due to the dangers they pose to human health and the environment.
- Some of the active ingredients are no longer approved for use in the European Union (EU) due to their effects on health and the environment and yet widely used by many cocoa farmers
- Unapproved pesticides including those that are highly hazardous also damage soils, poison water bodies and destroy biodiversity.
- The continued over-dependence on unapproved pesticides (including highly hazardous pesticides) could result from limited access to approved pesticides or alternatives. Weak enforcement of regulations, influence of pesticide manufacturers, and the high cost of approved pesticides have led to the proliferation of unapproved pesticides.
- The use of unapproved (especially highly hazardous) pesticides in cocoa production is a risk to the human right to health, the human right to safe and healthy working conditions as well as the human right to a healthy environment. This can only be addressed with a collective effort of both state and non-state actors in Cocoa producing and consuming countries.
Based on the above-mentioned, we hereby make the following proposals:
- The pesticide approval process in Ghana should be tightened to phase out all unapproved (and highly hazardous) pesticides (HHPs) and clamp down on the influx of unapproved pesticides in the market.
Though pesticide use boosts cocoa production in the short term, the persistent misuse of pesticides adversely poses a great risk to the health of farmers and the environment in the long term.
EPA should strongly consider withdrawing its approval for pesticides that are no longer recommended by COCOBOD for use in Cocoa. Government agencies and local authorities (MMDAs) should therefore ensure that certified retailers sell only approved pesticides to cocoa farmers and that all actors on the value chain go through routine medical check-ups to reduce the health-related risk associated with contact with pesticides.
- The human and logistical capacity of agencies statutorily responsible for enforcement of laws and regulations in respect of the production, importation, supply and use of pesticides in the country should be strengthened.
The security agencies at the borders should prevent the entry of unapproved pesticides into the country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Research, Academia, and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) should be strengthened to regularly monitor pesticide residue levels for actions to be taken. The certified agro-input dealers, mass sprayers and farmers should be continuously educated on the risk of using pesticides without strict compliance to use, storage and disposal of used containers. The production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) should suit the local weather conditions to motivate sprayers to use them.
- There should be periodic monitoring and evaluation of the chemical pesticide industry to determine the types of pesticides on the Ghanaian market (percentage of approved and unapproved), the source of introduction, the impacts on cost of production, the impacts of application on human health and the environment and availability of alternatives.
To efficiently regulate the use of pesticide for agricultural production, Ghanaian government in collaboration with other actors such as research institutions/academia should establish a database to generate relevant and reliable data to highlight and properly document the effect of pesticides on production, human health and the environment in order to review public policy and programs to address any negative effects. This will enable the country to develop and promote minimum standards to ensure safety of farmers and the public from pesticide poisoning as well as chronic health effects of pesticides.
- There should be sustained community education and public awareness about the effects of pesticides on human health and the environment along the entire value chain.
While many producers and consumers are aware of the beneficial effects of pesticides in enhancing farm produce and productivity resulting from control of pest and disease incidence, there is still a large number of persons that may be ignorant about the adverse effects of misuse of pesticides on humans and the environment. The public education could be complemented with on-farm training for producers, input dealers, sprayers, farm families, and community members in efficient use of pesticides to reduce the risk to humans and the environment.
- There should be investment in research into alternatives and local production of approved pesticides.
Government and the private sector should invest in research into alternative pest control methods such as Integrated Pest Management, biopesticides and agroecological approaches within the country in order to enhance their availability and affordability. This may likely reduce the patronage of low cost unapproved and often highly hazardous pesticides on the local market. The promotion of alternatives amongst cocoa farmers could also reduce the risk of application to human health and the environment and contribute to more sustainable cocoa production.
(Both state and non-state actors)
Nana Yaw Reuben