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On one of my visits to a Project targeted at supporting smallholder farmers to adopt technology and innovation, I decided to check on a project member I had become close to (someone I saw as my mum).

I was taken aback at the scene of a gentleman (her son) laying on a mat and was in obvious pain. Apparently, he was bitten by a black scorpion whiles offloading firewood from a tricycle.

Upon further questioning I was surprised at their reluctance to seek medical attention in this life or death situation. Reasons given was the high cost of medical services and the believe in their own practical way of extracting the poison out. Initially, I thought it was a traditional herbal means but “hell no”. I call it Poison to Poison. They poured an unspecified volume of glyphosate into a bowl, whiles the gentleman dipped his bitten finger into the chemicals whiles he laid there in pain. The scene before me had a lot of red flags. “Glyphosate to Extract Scorpion Poison – Insane”.

Working with smallholder farmers across the country, I have seen weird stuffs, but this was definitely new. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill most plants. It prevents the plants from making certain proteins that are needed for plant growth. The World Health Organisation listed glyphosate as probably carcinogenic. Numerous other independent research studies have looked into the chemical’s negative impacts. These include damage to the liver, kidney, and skin cells, as well as disruption to soil and aquatic life.

It is unclear the effects of Glyphosate to Human body and hence, manufacturers emphasize on protective clothing including masks for application. To my mum, it is a perceived way of extracting poison and no matter what I said to get them to seek professional medical services, it fell on deaf eyes.

On my way back, I asked series of questions; Are there audio and visual educative adverts on dangers of Synthetic inputs for farming? What are the government agencies such Environmental Protection Agency and Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Department doing to sensitize the older and new generation of farmers who have little or no access to education.

As these questions lingered on my mind, I drove back to the capital wishing  there was more I could do.

  • Organize series of training and capacity building for farmers
  • Register these farmers on the national health insurance scheme to access health services.

Many more can be achieved with the right partnership and I always say, these forgotten smallholder farmers are the backbone of most African Nations producing food to feed the masses.

Kenneth Abdulai Nelson
CEO – Farm 360 Limited

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