Government has raised concern over the application of restricted use of pesticides to preserve harvested grain with the pesticides registration office in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development ill-launching a campaign to promote proper handling.

Hazardous aluminium phosphide tablets and other restricted use pesticides are being openly sold on the streets posing a danger to the public and farmers who are treating grain using them.

Pesticides Registrar in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Mr Kwadzanai Mushore said the department is concerned by the influx of restricted pesticide sales and wrong application by consumers.

“Aluminium phosphide is classified as restricted use pesticides and this means it must be used in storage areas which are far away from the homestead. It must not be put into sacks or mixed with grain. Rather, it should be placed in a plate in the room where grain is stored. Phosphide gas which is liberated when the tablets are exposed to air kills insect pests. If farmers are not trained to handle pesticides, they can use powder grain protectants which are widely available even in supermarkets,” he said.

Mr Mushore highlighted the need for farmers to observe stipulated periods between application of pesticides and consumption of food crops to minimise health risks.

Mr Mushore added, “Some of the unregistered pesticides being sold do not have stipulated instruction manuals which show the required time frame to be observed between date of pesticide application and time and date of harvesting”.

Improper use of pesticides can be fatal and also result in serious ailments for consumers such nausea, diarrhoea, respiratory ailments and low blood pressure among others.