Assessment of Pesticide Residue Levels Among Locally Produced Fruits and Vegetables in Monze District ,Zambia
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The use of pesticides in Zambia‟s agriculture sector is increasingly being seen as an important aspect of agricultural technology and innovation and as being critical for agriculture development, economic growth and poverty reduction. The use of pesticides however, often leads to the presence of residues in the fruits and vegetables after harvest. The objective of the study was to investigate dichlorvos residues in selected locally produced fruits and vegetables in Monze and verify compliance with maximum residue limit standards. We also explored farmers‟ practices and monitoring and regulation issues in pesticide use and handling. The study used mixed method (convergent parallel) design. Fruit and vegetable samples were examined for residues of dichlorvos by gas chromatography- mass spectrometry (GC-MS) using dichloromethane, hexane and acetone Hipersolv chromanorm HPLC grades as extraction solvents. A semi structured interview guide was used to gather information for the qualitative study. A total of 14 key informant interviews with farmers, agriculture and public health officers and one policy maker were voice recorded transcribed and analyzed using Nvivo 10 software. Results revealed detectable dichlorvos residues in 63.3% of all the tested samples while 36.7% of the samples had residues below detectable levels. Three of the 19 samples that had pesticide residues exceeded the codex Alimentarius MRL (0.1mg/kg). However, all samples had residues below the Zambia Food and Drugs standard (0.5ppm). In regard to farmers‟ practices, results showed great variation in pesticide use and handling, limited knowledge, observation of reduced waiting period and increased application rate. Meanwhile, issues of monitoring and regulation of pesticide use among farmers were also limited. Exposure to pesticides has been known to be associated with adverse health effects on man that can either be acute or chronic in nature. The presence of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables of banned and / restricted pesticides in other countries is a serious concern and threaten the health of consumers. This calls for the need to strengthen regulation, monitoring and control of pesticide use among farmers. It can be concluded that, the low levels of pesticide residue detected in fruits and vegetables are not a guarantee of consumer safety. Farmers‟ practices including observation of reduced waiting periods and continuous application of pesticides combined with limited knowledge and training and absence of monitoring services seriously threaten the safety of consumers of fruit and vegetable coming from Hachaanga and St Mary‟s areas of Monze District, Zambia.
University of Zambia
Master of Public Health