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Pesticide use practices in root, tuber, and banana crops by smallholder farmers in Rwanda and Burundi

Misuse and poor handling of chemical pesticides in agriculture is hazardous to the health of farmers, consumers, and to the environment. We studied the pest and disease management practices and the type of pesticides used in four root, tuber, and banana (RTB) crops in Rwanda and Burundi through in-depth interviews with a total of 811 smallholder farmers. No chemical pesticides were used in banana in either Rwanda and Burundi, whereas the use of insecticides and fungicides in potato was quite frequent. Nearly all insecticides and about one third of the fungicides used are moderately hazardous. Personal protective equipment was used by less than a half of the interviewed farmers in both countries. Reported cases of death due to self- or accidental-poisoning among humans and domestic animals in the previous 12 months were substantial in both countries. Training of farmers and agrochemical retailers in safe use of pesticide and handling and, use of integrated pest management approaches to reduce pest and disease damage is recommended.