News / Asia

    Pesticides Continue to Harm Cambodia’s Farmers

    Cambodian farmers work on the rice field in Kampong Speu province, west of Phnom Penh, (File)
    Cambodian farmers work on the rice field in Kampong Speu province, west of Phnom Penh, (File)
    Robert Carmichael

    A new study shows that many Cambodian vegetable farmers suffer from acute pesticide poisoning. It is the latest to indicate that Cambodia, like many other developing nations, is struggling to protect farmers and consumers from the dangers of pesticides.

    Twenty-two-year-old Srey Kuot is a contract farmer who grows vegetables on a plot of land outside the capital, Phnom Penh. Like most Cambodian farmers she knows pesticides can harm her health. But, like most, she mixes several into a poisonous cocktail.

    She says when she sprays pesticides she uses gloves, boots, a mask and a long shirt and trousers. If she did not, she says, it would enter her body and cause illness, which will be very difficult to cure, so she has to take precautions.

    But Srey Kuot has no idea what pesticides she uses because the seller at the market in Phnom Penh provides them to her and tells her how to use them.

    She says the person who gives her the pesticide tells her how strong it is. And the labels for these chemicals are only in Vietnamese and Thai.

    A group of Danish researchers recently interviewed 89 farmers growing vegetables on outskirts of Phnom Penh. They found that 90 percent had experienced symptoms of acute pesticide poisoning.

    Their report, published this month in the Journal of Toxicology, says many lack suitable protective clothing, even though about half the pesticides used by the farmers in that study are classified by the World Health Organization as Class I or Class II - which means they are moderately to extremely hazardous to human health.

    Some of those pesticides are banned here, but the Danish report says they are smuggled into Cambodia.

    The Danish survey echoes one done in 2008 by the Pesticide Action Network, Asia and the Pacific - or PANAP. That study looked at the use of highly hazardous pesticides in eight Asian nations, including Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India and China.

    The PANAP study found that two-thirds of the active ingredients used in pesticides by the 1,300 farmers surveyed had highly hazardous characteristics, and presented what the organization called "unacceptably high risks to communities".

    The Danish report calls the use of "highly toxic pesticides one of the most significant hazards" for farmers in low-income countries. And it notes that in many developing countries, the widespread availability of the most hazardous pesticides has turned them into a common method of committing suicide.

    Moderate pesticide poisoning can cause muscle cramps, chest pains, blurred vision, vomiting and many other symptoms. Swallowing Class I and II pesticides can be very quickly fatal.

    When it came to the Cambodian section of PANAP’s study, a third of farmers said they used no protective gear when spraying pesticides. And even among those who did use protective gear, none used a respirator.

    Both the PANAP and the Danish studies found that none of the 95 pesticides it assessed carried labels in Khmer, the language of Cambodia, despite a law requiring Khmer labeling.

    Keam Makarady, an agronomist and pesticides expert at Cambodian agricultural organization CEDAC, says that is typical.

    "We can say that 95 percent are labeled in a foreign language. So it is difficult for the farmer to know what kind of pesticide that they use, and also the direction for the safe use of pesticides," Makarady said.

    Makarady says CEDAC and other agricultural aid groups train farmers on safer handling of pesticides, and it pays off.

    He says that typically 80 percent of farmers at the start of a training program use the most dangerous types of pesticides. After training, that number comes down sharply.

    "But now [after trainin]) the number of farmers that use the banned and restricted pesticides or highly hazardous pesticides has decreased,” Makarady stated. “Now it’s only 10 percent."

    Makarady says the problem with pesticides has him so concerned that he buys only organic fruit and vegetables for his family. But buying organic is not an option for most Cambodians, because produce grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers usually is more expensive.

    The Danish team says that if the government enforced its own ban on the worst pesticides, the number of farmers being poisoned would come down.

    The government says it is working on a new law that will punish people who import banned pesticides.

    However, there is no set timetable for introducing the legislation on pesticides.


    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora