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Distribution of health costs of pesticide use by household economy


  • Kishor Atreya


  • Bishal Sitaula


  • Roshan Bajracharya



We observed skewed distribution across household of benefits of pesticide use in vegetable farming in Nepal. However, economic burden or harm of pesticide use and exposure by household economy is poorly studied. It is hypothesized that exaggerated and incompetent pesticide use is likely to affect human health that may lead to decline in human productivity, and economic loss––that may further marginalize farmers. Thus, a study was conducted in the Ansi khola watershed of Kavrepalanchowk District of central Nepal. The primary aim of the study was to value risks of pesticide use and to estimate health costs of exposure by household category. We grouped household into “large-scale” who owns more than 1 ha of agricultural land, “small-scale” having >0.5 ha and “medium-scale” in between >0.5 and >1 ha. Data were collected through (1) an initial household survey conducted from May to June 2008, (2) monthly visit surveys accomplished from June to November 2008 and (3) a final household survey conducted during November to December 2009. The cost of pesticide use and exposure was highest for medium-scale household; however, the economic burden in relation to incomes was the highest for small-scale household. On the basis of area under vegetables, small-scale household incurred 23 % higher economic burdens compared to the large-scale household. Overall, the cost of pesticide use and exposure amounted 15 % of agricultural income and/or 5 % of gross household income. For small-scale households, the cost was equivalent to 18 % of agricultural income and 6 % of gross income. Small-scale households are not only deprived from benefits of agriculture intensification, but also incurred highest burden of pesticide use. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:endesu:v:15:y:2013:i:3:p:827-839
    DOI: 10.1007/s10668-012-9414-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Atreya, Kishor, 2008. "Health costs from short-term exposure to pesticides in Nepal," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 511-519, August.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:11:1916-1921_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Sivayoganathan, C. & Gnanachandran, S. & Lewis, J. & Fernando, M., 1995. "Protective measure use and symptoms among agropesticide applicators in Sri Lanka," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 431-436, February.
    5. Antle, John M. & Cole, Donald C. & Crissman, Charles C., 1998. "Further evidence on pesticides, productivity and farmer health: Potato production in Ecuador," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 18(2), March.
    6. Devi, P. Indira, 2009. "Health Risk Perceptions, Awareness and Handling Behaviour of Pesticides by Farm Workers," Agricultural Economics Research Review, Agricultural Economics Research Association (India), vol. 22(2).
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