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Working Paper 234 - The Unintended Consequences of Agricultural Input Intensification: Human Health Implications of Agro-chemical use in Sub-Saharan Africa

Listed author(s):
  • Megan Sheahan

    ()

  • Christopher Barrett
  • Casey Goldvale

While agro-chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides are often promoted as inputs that increase agricultural productivity by limiting a range of pre-harvest losses, their use may have negative human health and labor productivity implications. We explore the relationship between agro-chemical use and the value of crop output at the plot level and a range of human health outcomes at the household level using nationally representative panel survey data from four Sub-Saharan African countries where more than ten percent of main season cultivators use agro-chemicals. We find that agro-chemicals use is associated with increased value of harvest, with similar magnitudes across three of the four countries under study, but is also associated with increases in costs associated with human illness, including increased health expenditures related to illness and time lost from work due to sickness in recent past. We motivate our empirical work with a simple dynamic optimization model that clearly shows the role that farmer understanding of these feedbacks can play in optimizing the use of agro-chemicals. The central role of information in determining that optimum underscores the role of agricultural and public health extension as modern input intensification proceeds in the region.

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File URL: https://www.afdb.org/fileadmin/uploads/afdb/Documents/Publications/WPS_No_234_The_unintended_consequences_of_agricultural_A.pdf
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Paper provided by African Development Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 2329.

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Date of creation: 21 Apr 2016
Handle: RePEc:adb:adbwps:2329
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  1. Michael Johnson & Peter Hazell & Ashok Gulati, 2003. "The Role of Intermediate Factor Markets in Asia's Green Revolution: Lessons for Africa?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1211-1216.
  2. Palacios-Lopez, Amparo & Christiaensen, Luc & Kilic, Talip, 2017. "How much of the labor in African agriculture is provided by women?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 52-63.
  3. Nadja Stadlinger & Aviti Mmochi & Sonja Dobo & Emma Gyllbäck & Linda Kumblad, 2011. "Pesticide use among smallholder rice farmers in Tanzania," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 641-656, June.
  4. John M. Antle & Prabhu L. Pingali, 1994. "Pesticides, Productivity, and Farmer Health: A Philippine Case Study," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 76(3), pages 418-430.
  5. Susmita Dasgupta & Craig Meisner & Mainul Huq, 2007. "A Pinch or a Pint? Evidence of Pesticide Overuse in Bangladesh," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 91-114, 02.
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