Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 30, 2021 (SKNIS): Pesticides Awareness Week is celebrated annually during the last week of September to highlight, improve and control the use of pesticides in the English-speaking Caribbean countries. This year, the focus is placed on advocating for a better life and environment as is evident in the theme: “Choose, Use Alternative to Toxic Household Agricultural and Public Health Pesticides for A Better Life and Environment: Our Actions are our Future.”
In keeping with the theme, Melvin James, Former Chair of the Pesticides Control Board, highlighted several alternatives to household and agricultural pesticides. These, he said, can aid in achieving a better life and creating a safer and healthier environment.
“While we are talking about reducing the use of pesticides we also have to find a replacement because it is used a lot for human health and in food. In terms of in the house for mosquitoes there are some plants you can put in water and that would prevent mosquito larvae from developing,” said Mr. James on the September 29 edition of Working for You. “A clean environment also does a lot in terms of keeping certain insects away. I even like sticky traps to control flies, but the more modern ones are ultraviolet lights… so these are things that can be done other than using pesticides.”
Mr. James noted that there are ways to continue to get a large amount of food produced with the use of chemicals.
“We spoke about judicious use of these things but they are also developing new types of pesticides. Neem is a good extract, and neem, in a good enough concentration, once worms feed on it, they will stop reproducing and they will also stop feeding. It affects their nervous system so they become incoherent and they also lose their appetite, so they will basically stare,” he said. “So there is neem. Some people also use garlic and there are hot peppers which can be used.”
Hiram Williams, Member of the Pesticides and Control Board, said that pesticides are extensively used worldwide to manage agriculture pests. However, he noted that it is important to find alternatives and improve crop and livestock security especially as the agriculture sector grows.
“We cannot overemphasize the importance of agriculture as it was developed to produce crops and livestock for human consumption. However, there are other organisms out there that want to consume the same crops and they do consume and destroy a significant percentage of crops that are intended for human consumption. As a result, it affects food consumption and certainly, it affects farmers in terms of their economic survival,” said Mr. Hiram. “In order to prevent high loss in food production, pesticides are often used to combat the problem. They are quite effective in reducing and managing the pest population.”
Every year, Pesticides Awareness Week is celebrated with a week of activities geared towards raising awareness on the health and environmental risks of chemical pesticides, as well as highlighting and promoting alternative solutions. This year, however, activities had to be curtailed due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.