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Pesticide Poisoning Among Farmers A Growing Concern in Belize

The issue of pesticide poisoning among farmers and farm workers appears to be a growing area of concern in Belize that authorities are now seeking to address. A recent study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the University of Belize, revealed that there seemed to be a substantial increase in the cases of accidental pesticide poisoning in the year 2021, compared to the previous two years. The survey recorded incidences of accidental pesticide poisoning, over a three-year period, among 150 farmers and farm workers. FAO Project Coordinator Michael Ramsay, highlighted several health problems with varying levels of severity as reported by the farmers and farm workers.

Ramsay says that some farmers and farm workers reported skin irritations, itching, burns and headaches, while some victims experienced much more severe symptoms. He says that exposure to chemicals was mainly the result of inadequate use, negligence or availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Most persons affected by pesticides sought to self-medicate (even when the symptoms were severe) while very few others visited hospitals and clinics for professional medical attention.

Several recommendations were put forward to aid in reducing the incidences of pesticide poisoning, including a review of the pesticides and their active ingredients identified by the survey as being a health problem, and addressing the knowledge, attitudes, and pesticide practices of farmers, farm workers and their employers.