HILDEGARD GARMING, HERMANN WAIBEL
University of Hannover, Department of Business Administration and Economics, Germany
While pesticides have been an important means of protecting plants from pests or diseases and thus increase productivity in plant production in modern agricultural systems, they also result in negative impact on the environment and on human and animal health. If these effects are not taken into account as costs associated with pesticide use or if they are external to the farmers, pesticide productivity is overestimated and pesticides are overused.
Vegetable farmers in Nicaragua use high quantities of chemical pesticides; occupational poisoning has been well documented. In a survey, we found that on average 14 applications with highly toxic insecticides during the four months cultivation period are carried out and annual intoxication rates are as high as 12%. Demand for information and techniques that avoid exposure to toxic chemicals is high amongst farmers in the region.
This study assesses the benefits attributed to farmer pest management training with emphasis on health issues amongst a sample of 400 vegetable farmers in Nicaragua. The impact of training on the exposure of farmers to health threatening pesticides is identified and the resulting health costs/benefits are valued in economic terms. Our methodology allows evaluating the health risks due to pesticide exposure from the farmers' point of view. The analytical procedure shows the importance of health aspects in farmers' decision making. The study makes a contribution to better understand the incentive schemes required that induce farmers to adopt healthier technologies. In particular, it provides evidence on the full benefits of IPM programmes based on farmers' willingness to pay. Results of the study will help to design more effective health policies for the rural population in Central America.
Keywords: Human health, Nicaragua, pesticides, vegetable production, willingness to pay