Postcards from Ghana

Hosanna. Pesticides 10/11/97

Wenchi, a town out in the Styx. From where I was doing some research. Finding out about pesticides.....

The farmer finds his crop is being attacked by pests. So what does he do, he wanders down to the agro-chemical store and asks for something to kill these terrible bugs that are chopping his crop. The chemical seller goes into the back of his small shop and pulls out an old bottle of DDT. Because the farmer doesn't have much money the seller reaches for a small bottle and pours a small quantity of the chemical into it. The farmer looks at it and tells the seller that it doesn't look or smell like the last chemical he bought. He questions whether it is strong pesticide. He thinks the chemical seller is trying to pass off some other liquid to him. Something that won't kill those terrible pests? So he dips his finger into the bottle and brings his finger to his mouth. 'Yes' he says, 'it certainly is strong pesticide'. He pays his few cedi's for the small bottle, leaves the chemical seller and wanders off to his farm.

On the way to the farm he calls into his house and sees his wife carrying a bucket of water which she will use to fill their drinking water pot. As there is no water near his land, he persuades her to let him take the bucket -she can use it for collecting drinking water later- and walks the three miles through the bush to his two acres farm.

Time to blitz those terrible pests he thinks as he pours the chemical into the bucket of water and mixes it with his hands. He then pulls a branch off a nearby palm tree and dips it into the bucket. This is the Hosanna Method of pesticide application. He flicks the pesticide over his crops. Like the priest flicking holy water over his congregation. Only the priest isn't killing himself with DDT.


When the farmer's maize is ready to be stored he hears about a new chemical that is on the market. The agricultural extension officers are holding a farmers day to explain what this new pesticide is and how to use it. The farmer goes along to the farmers day.

At the farmers day the extension officers are addressing the farmers who are gathered round. Or rather they are addressing the chiefs and village dignitaries so the farmer has difficulty in hearing what is being said. But no matter, he can see the big extension officer demonstrating the concentrations.... a farmer is pulled from the crowd to demonstrate how to use the new chemical. But first the officer tells him to wear protective clothing.

The extension officer knows that there is no 'real' protective clothing around, the nearest shop selling gloves and facemasks is in the big town which is an hours drive away; so he instructs the farmer to improvise, to use plastic bags as gloves and a handkerchief as a face mask. When the farmer is suitably protected the officer demonstrates how to spray the maize. Of course _he_ is not wearing any protective clothing. The farmer is then given the sprayer and starts spraying the maize. 'No no no' says the extension officer, 'you do it like _this_'...... And once again the officer is spraying. The farmer wearing the plastic bags on his hands and handkerchief on his mouth is beginning to feel a little silly, afterall, why should he dress up and look foolish whilst the extension officer can spray without wearing plastic bags on his hands and a handkerchief on his mouth? The farmer gives the maize another spray before being given a round of applause. He wanders off, he now knows how to apply this new chemical on his maize. Feeling hungry on his way home he stops at a 'chop bar' and eats his fufu. Only the extension officer didn't tell him the importance of washing his hands after using chemicals and a little later his stomach pains him. Bad fufu he thinks to himself.....