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Hidden health costs of pesticide use in Zimbabwe's smallholder cotton growers

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  • Maumbe, Blessing M.
  • Swinton, Scott M.

Abstract

Balancing the numerous benefits that may accrue from pesticide use on cotton, farmers face health hazards. Pesticide-induced acute symptoms significantly increased the cost-of-illness in a survey of 280 smallholder cotton growers in two districts of Zimbabwe. Cotton growers lost a mean of Z$180 in Sanyati and Z$316 per year in Chipinge on pesticide-related direct and indirect acute health effects. These values are equivalent to 45% and 83% of annual household pesticide expenditures in the two districts. The time spent recuperating from illnesses attributed to pesticides averaged 2 days in Sanyati and 4 days in Chipinge during the 1998/1999 growing season. These pesticide health cost estimates represent lower bounds only; they omit chronic pesticide health effects as well as suffering and other non-monetary costs. Acute pesticide symptoms were determined in large part by pesticide use practices, notably the lack of protective clothing. Yet many smallholder farmers misunderstood pesticide health hazards, and so did little to protect themselves. Despite the use of simple color codes, 22% of smallholder cotton growers in Sanyati and 58% in Chipinge did not know how the four colored triangles communicated increasing degrees of pesticide toxicity. Better farmer education in exposure averting strategies is needed. Likewise, fuller accounting for hidden health costs in future would allow farmers to make more informed decisions about agricultural pest management.

Suggested Citation

  • Maumbe, Blessing M. & Swinton, Scott M., 2003. "Hidden health costs of pesticide use in Zimbabwe's smallholder cotton growers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(9), pages 1559-1571, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:9:p:1559-1571
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    Cited by:

    1. Eicher, Carl K. & Maredia, Karim & Sithole-Niang, Idah, 2006. "Crop biotechnology and the African farmer," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 504-527, December.
    2. Martine AUDIBERT, 2008. "Endemic diseases and agricultural productivity: Challenges and policy response," Working Papers 200823, CERDI.
    3. Devi, P. Indira, 2009. "Pesticide Application and Occupational Health Risks Among Farm Workers in Kerala-An Analysis Using Dose Response Function," Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 1-16.
    4. Julius J. Okello & Scott M. Swinton, 2010. "From Circle of Poison to Circle of Virtue: Pesticides, Export Standards and Kenya's Green Bean Farmers," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 209-224.
    5. Indira Devi P, 2007. "Pesticide Use in the Rice Bowl of Kerala: Health Costs and Policy Options," Working Papers id:1147, eSocialSciences.
    6. Ehlert, Christoph R. & Mithöfer, Dagmar & Waibel, Hermann, 2014. "Worker welfare on Kenyan export vegetable farms," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 66-73.
    7. Atreya, Kishor, 2008. "Health costs from short-term exposure to pesticides in Nepal," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 511-519, August.
    8. Ebere Akobundu & Jing Ju & Lisa Blatt & C. Mullins, 2006. "Cost-of-Illness Studies," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 24(9), pages 869-890, September.
    9. Gillson, I & Poulton, Colin & Balcombe, Kelvin & Page, S, 2004. "Understanding the impact of Cotton Subsidies on developing countries," MPRA Paper 15373, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Tschirley, David L. & Poulton, Colin & Boughton, Duncan, 2006. "The Many Paths of Cotton Sector Reform in Eastern and Southern Africa: Lessons From a Decade of Experience," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 54477, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    11. Clevo Wilson, 2005. "Exposure to pesticides, ill-health and averting behaviour: Costs and determining the relationships," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 197, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    12. Kishor Atreya & Bishal Sitaula & Roshan Bajracharya, 2013. "Distribution of health costs of pesticide use by household economy," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 827-839, June.
    13. Pitoro, Raul & Walker, Thomas S. & Tschirley, David L. & Swinton, Scott M. & Boughton, Duncan & de Marrule, Higino Francisco, 2009. "Can Bt Technology Reduce Poverty Among African Cotton Growers? An Ex Ante Analysis of the Private and Social Profitability of Bt Cotton Seed in Mozambique," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51633, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    14. Kishor Atreya, 2007. "Farmers’ willingness to pay for community integrated pest management training in Nepal," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 24(3), pages 399-409, September.
    15. Kouser, Shahzad & Qaim, Matin, 2011. "Impact of Bt cotton on pesticide poisoning in smallholder agriculture: A panel data analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 2105-2113, September.
    16. Solomon Asfaw & Dagmar Mithöfer & Hermann Waibel, 2010. "Agrifood supply chain, private-sector standards, and farmers' health: evidence from Kenya," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 41(3-4), pages 251-263, May.
    17. Eicher, Carl K. & Maredia, Karim & Sithole-Niang, Idah, 2005. "Biotechnology and the African Farmer," Staff Papers 11495, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    18. Abedullah & Ali, Haseeb & Kouser, Shahzad, 2012. "Pesticide or Wastewater, Which One is Bigger Culprit for Acute Health Symptoms among Vegetable Growers in Pakistan’s Punjab," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126598, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    19. Snyder, Jason & Smart, Jennifer & Goeb, Joey & Tschirley, David, 2015. "Pesticide use in Sub-Saharan Africa: Estimates, Projections, and Implications in the Context of Food System Transformation," Miscellaneous Publications 230980, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.

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