Achieving Happiness Is The Primary Motivation for Pesticide Use for African Farmers

African Farmer

African farmer after herbicide spray 

Pesticides are used by farmers to achieve high yields of marketable crops that results in increased income. A team of Swedish researchers set out to understand African farmers’ motivation for using pesticides. What they found was that pesticide use led to higher incomes, less family stress and increased happiness.

“The study focuses on kale farmers in peri-urban of Nairobi. Kale is one of the most widely consumed vegetables in urban areas of Kenya and has high nutritional value while at the same time acting as an important source of income to peri-urban farming households. Kale is a fast growing crop that is susceptible to many pests and diseases thus requires use of pesticides.

The illustration shows that leafy vegetables farmers use pesticides to protect kale from pests and diseases. The motivation for applying pesticides therefore was to ensure that kale was good-looking or had high sensory quality attributes. This in turn attracted more buyers and also met buyers’ demands for aesthetic quality, usually sought-after by consumers. In addition, the use of pesticides protected kale from pests and diseases which increased the quantity of marketable kale thus generating more money or higher profit margins to growers. The consequence associated with making more money from kale production was the ability to meet family or personal needs. These needs include children’s education, and the provision of food, clothing and shelter for the family. …In other words, farmers apply pesticides to protect kale from pests and diseases in order to avoid failure to meet family needs which can fuel disputes and degenerate into health problems. …This finding suggests that kale farmers’ most important motivation for using pesticides in kale production is to live a happy life, free from stress-related diseases.”

Authors: Lagerkvist, C. J., et al.
Affiliation: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.
Title: Means-End Chain approach to understanding farmers’ motivations for pesticide use in leafy vegetables: The case of kale in peri-urban Nairobi, Kenya.
Source: Crop Protection. 2012. 39:72-80.