Up to eight harmful pesticide contaminants have been found in tomatoes sold in major markets in Kampala and other parts of Uganda.
The study by the Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health – UNACOH was done in 18 districts of Uganda under its Pesticide Use, Health and Environment Project implemented in collaboration with Diálogos, a Danish voluntary health promotion organization.
The study was conducted in the four geographical regions of Uganda, covering the districts of Kampala, Sembabule, Wakiso, Kayunga, Rakai, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Kamwenge, Masindi, Nebbi, Adjumani, Kitgum, Gulu, Kapchorwa, Kumi, Pallisa, Budaka and Bugiri. Across the areas, tomatoes were randomly bought from market vendors and farms for analysis for the presence of pesticide residues in the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory (DGAL).
Dr Deogratious Ssekimpi, the Executive Director of Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health-UNACOH, says the scientific analysis found that the number of tomatoes contaminated with the harmful pesticide residues gets worse at the end of June as the first cropping season March – June planting season comes to an end.
Ssekimpi: “Some farmers told us they spray their crops even on the day they are going to sell in order to make their crops attractive. And some consumers who know very well that the pesticide residues are harmful to their health still buy the contaminated tomatoes because of lack of alternatives.”
Aggrey Atuhaire, the Coordinator of Pesticide Use, Health and Environment Project at UNACOH says they collected water samples from 86 water sources in the districts where the research was conducted, and established that up to 94 per cent of them had one detectable concentration of a pesticide residue at the beginning of April and end of June.
High misuse of agro-chemicals
John Mwanje, the Acting Commissioner for Agro Chemicals at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) says there is a global concern over the increase in cases of Cancer-causing Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) associated with misuse of agro-chemicals around the World. He says the new study has made critical findings for MAIIF to strengthen its regulation.
According to independent.co.ug, the scientists say that unless regulated fast enough, the problem of misuse of pesticides is a ticking time bomb for the country.