Open Ghana, a farmer based Organization has called on law enforcement agencies to effectively regulate and monitor the use of agro-chemicals in order to minimise the risk of farmers who stand contaminated by the products. This would also safeguard the produce of farmers in the region and contribute to national food security in the country.
The organization also promised to take an advocacy action to ensure the enforcement of section 10 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act, 1994, Act 490 to effectively ensure proper disposal of empty pesticide containers, create public sector awareness of the severity of the issue, and minimize environmental contamination.
This call was made in a press statement issued and signed by the Executive Director, of Open Ghana, Isaac N. Kombat to strengthen institutional capacity of agriculture value chain actors, facilitate the development of crop value chain and promote social and economic development in Northern Ghana.
Below is the Full Press Statement
TITLE OF ADVOCACY: THE ENFORCEMENT OF SECTION 10 OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) ACT 1994, ACT 490.
Open Ghana is a Farmer Based Organization located in the Northern Regional capital- Tamale. It was officially launched in April 2015. The vision of Open Ghana is to be the leading development partner in Northern Ghana, providing innovative and sustainable development intervention to key stakeholders.
Our objective includes strengthening institutional capacity of agriculture values chain actors, facilitating the development of crop value chain and to promote social and economic development in Northern Ghana.
Agrochemicals in recent times have become an integral part of present-day farming, and play a major role in increasing agricultural productivity. Farmers and especially those directly involved in the handling of Agrochemicals, are at a high risk of exposure to Agrochemicals through contact with pesticide residues on treated crops, unsafe handling, storage and disposal practices, poor maintenance of spraying equipment, and the lack of protective equipment or failure to use it properly. These risks may be exacerbated by lack of information on pesticide hazards, the perception and attitude of farmers regarding risk from pesticide exposure and lack of education and poor knowledge and understanding of safe practices in pesticide use, including storage, handling and disposal.
Due to the potential health effects of Agrochemicals, most countries, including Ghana, have developed laws and regulations to encourage safe pesticide use. The EPA Act 490 Stipulates dealing with procedures for the use of Agrochemicals including, registration, sale, distribution, transportation, storage and handling. Similarly, resolution No. 95 of 1995 is concerned with banning the circulation of hazardous Agrochemicals to protect human health and the environment. However, the basic problem lies in the inadequacy of enforcing these laws at the retail and farm level due to the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms. Evidence exists of pesticide-related health effects in Ghana. Pesticide residues have been detected in a number of vegetables and other food crops.
Despite all these laid down interventions, the EPA Act 490 of 1994, has dedicated section 10 of its regulations to the establishment of a multi-stakeholder hazardous chemical committee to ensure coherence and coordination among related agencies in respect to chemical usage. There is generally lack of coordination on the nature and handling of these chemicals which often affects most of our members.
Membership of the Hazardous Chemical Committee
The Hazardous Chemical Committee is made up of a representative of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Crop Service Department of the Ministry Food and Agriculture. Other members of the Veterinary Services Department (VSD), the council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Other members are to be appointed by the board and these members should have some knowledge on toxic and chemical management.
As part of the act, the function of the committee is to monitor the use of hazardous chemicals by collecting information on the importation, exportation, manufacture, distribution, sale, use and disposal of those chemicals.
For this reason, Open Ghana is carrying out an advocacy action for the enforcement of section 10 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1994, Act 490 to effectively regulate and monitor the use of agri-chemicals, minimise the risk of farmers being contaminated by agri-chemicals, safeguard the produce of farmers in the region and contribute to national food security, ensure the proper disposal of empty pesticides containers, create public sector awareness of the severity of the issue , and to minimize environmental contamination.
The advocacy action is sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund), and their partners, DANIDA and USAID.
Mr. Isaac N. Kombat