In a bid to preserve their harvested Crops, farmers in Mozambique have resorted to the use of pesticides. Daniel Munghoshi a small scale farmer shares his insights on crop storage with The African Executive.
African Executive: What do you use to store your harvest?
Munghoshi: I use Actellic. The scientific name is too hard to pronounce. It is peri-something.
M: Absolutely, That’s correct. Some of the products we use have difficult names. It is time manufacturing companies used names that local people can identify with.
AE: What do you use Actellic on?
M: I apply it on maize, Pigeon, peas, beans, cowpeas and sorghum. It is good for a variety of grains.
AE: Why did you go for Actellic?
M: It is recommended by the Mozambique Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Crop Protection for use on stored grains. Extension officers also tell us that it is least in toxicity compared to other products.
AE: When and how do you apply it?
M: After harvest, I dry my grains. I then empty one of the rooms in my house and place a large polythene paper on the floor, spread the seed on the paper and sprinkle Actellic dust on it. The exercise involves wading through the ''sea of grain'' and mixing it with my feet.
AE: Why don’t you use a shovel?
M: My floor is earthen. I used a spade sometime but it would cut through the polythene sheet and scoop earth from the floor. That paper is expensive- you know!
AE: Do you do the mixing by yourself?
M: Not really, my wife and older siblings participate. As much as children look at it as fun, I don’t allow them to take part in the exercise.
AE: What follows the process?
M: After ensuring the Actellic dust is properly mixed- and this is usually 20 to 50 grams of powder for every 100kg of seed- I put the grains in bags and store them in one of the rooms.
AE: What time do you apply the pesticide?
M: Early in the morning around 10.00 am or late in the evening. I avoid the hottest and windiest part of the day for most of the dust would drift away from the seed to be treated.
AE: Do you make use of protective gear such as masks gloves, boots and overalls?
M: How many would be enough to fit my family? I have improvised gear though. For a mask, I use a handkerchief to cover my nose. For gloves, I use a small polythene bag. I put on old clothes as my overalls.
AE: Does the Actellic affect you negatively?
M In the mixing process, one feels dizzy and the nose runs sometimes. The dust has moderate irritation on the skin too.
AE: How do you go about it?
M: I don’t allow any food to be consumed within the mixing room. After the process, we wash our hands thoroughly with soap and have the clothes cleaned. We then take a glass of milk each. I never store the pesticide in a room with food items.
AE: What do you do with the pesticide container after use?
M: I puncture and burn it in a one meter deep pit, away from surface water. This is in accordance with the Mozambique Pesticide Legislation guide.
AE: Is there any pesticide legislation in your country?
M: Yes, but enforcement has been difficult due to lack of trained personnel and fragmented responsibilities among government agencies.
AE: Are there any NGOs that address pesticide use in your country?
M: Yes. The World Vision has been working with both the small scale private sector and National Institute for Agricultural research to develop the capacity to identify, select, multiply, produce and market improved seed of the major basic crops. Trials are being conducted on appropriate storage technologies which will allow producers to store their seed in suitable conditions from harvest until time of sale.
AE: What is your general view on pesticides?
M: Pesticides are good for preserving harvests. What good is it investing a lot of energy and resource on crops only to lose the harvest last minute? The more efficient the pesticide, the better for we farmers!