Year : 2019  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 32--36

Knowledge and perception of farmers regarding pesticide usage in a rural farming village, Southern India

Minnikanti Venkata Satya Sai, G Devi Revati, R Ramya, Ann Mary Swaroop, Eswaran Maheswari, Mudigubba Manoj Kumar 
 Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmacy, M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Minnikanti Venkata Satya Sai
Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmacy, M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, MSRIT Post, Bengaluru - 560 054, Karnataka


Background: Farmers are extensively using pesticides for pest control in agriculture. Their precarious handling practices may lead to higher exposure resulting in adverse health effects. Aim: Current study was aimed to evaluate the knowledge, attitude and practices regarding pesticide usage and its toxic effects by farmers. Settings and Design: Cross sectional, Study Setting: Rural village in south Karnataka. Materials and Methods: Sample size: 171 farmers, Data collection: face to face standardized validated questionnaire. Statistical Analysis: Chi-square test. Results: A total of 118 males and 53 females participated in this study with median age of 40 years. About 61% of the farmers knew the harmful effects of pesticides. However, 22% of them were mixing the pesticides using their bare hands and 26% were not wearing any protective clothing during spraying pesticides. Around 67% were carelessly disposing the leftover pesticides in the open fields. Skin problems and neurological system disturbances were the most common pesticide related health symptoms. Equipment washing practices (P < 0.05) and protective clothing (P < 0.03) were significant predictors of health related problems. Significant associations were found between the occurrence of headache and equipment washing practices (P < 0.03), storage of pesticide remains (P < 0.02) and protective clothing (P < 0.01). Conclusion: These findings showed that knowledge level is adequate among farmers but this did not reflect in their practice. There is a need for continuous pesticide safety education along with training to the farmers regarding use of personal protective devices, personal hygiene and sanitation practices during and after application of pesticides.

How to cite this article:
Satya Sai MV, Revati G D, Ramya R, Swaroop AM, Maheswari E, Kumar MM. Knowledge and perception of farmers regarding pesticide usage in a rural farming village, Southern India.Indian J Occup Environ Med 2019;23:32-36

How to cite this URL:
Satya Sai MV, Revati G D, Ramya R, Swaroop AM, Maheswari E, Kumar MM. Knowledge and perception of farmers regarding pesticide usage in a rural farming village, Southern India. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 16 ];23:32-36
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Full Text


Agriculture is an important economic sector in India. Over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood.[1],[2] According to World Health Organization, 500,000–1,000,000 people per year around the world suffer from health effects due to pesticide poisoning.[3] Despite such deleterious effects, people in many developing countries and even in some developed countries use unsafe methods in handling the pesticides.

Thus, understanding farmer's knowledge of pesticides and safety practices is vital to provide valuable information aimed at preventing or reducing the health and environmental hazards associated with pesticides.

Aims and objectives

In this context, it becomes more significant and relevant to determine the knowledge and practice of farmers concerning pesticide management and its impact on human health.

 Materials and Methods

A cross sectional study was conducted in the village of Kaivara, Chickballapur District, South Karnataka, India. Data were collected through face to face interviews, using a questionnaire. It was designed in English and translated into Kannada, the local language that is understood by majority of the farmers and was administered either in Kannada or English. The questionnaire included closed ended questions. These were in a multiple-choice format so that respondents had to select only the appropriate answers that they thought best described their opinion or attitude on a particular issue. The questionnaire contained three main sections. The first section was designed to collect information on personal characteristics of the farmers including age, gender, education level, years of farming experience and farming practices (crop types and yields). The second section focused on farmers' level of awareness on ill-effects of pesticides. The third section included questions regarding pesticide handling practices and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during pesticide application. Farmers were chosen randomly for the interview and their participation was entirely optional.

Data analysis

A sample size estimate of 170 was calculated using margin of error of 5% with 95% confidence interval. The raw data from the questionnaire was coded and entered in excel. SPSS version 20.0 (IBM Corp., Armomk, NY) was used to analyze the data. Chi-square test was used to measure the association between pesticide toxic effects and pesticide handling practices, with 95% CI.


Farmers profile

The respondents included 171 farmers from 10 villages. Majority of them were males (69.01%), while females were 30.99%. The median age of the farmers was 40 ranging from 18-80 years [Table 1]. Around 71.93% of the farmers were farming since more than 6 years, indicating the farmer's years of experience in cultivating ragi (43.84%) and vegetables (25.72%). The study showed that insecticides (72%), fungicides (18%) and herbicides (6%) were the different pesticide formulations used. Dichlorvos, an Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor that kills mushroom flies, aphids, spider mites, caterpillars, thrips, and whiteflies was recorded as the most commonly used insecticide [Table 2].{Table 1}{Table 2}

Farmers knowledge and behavior

Most farmers (52.63%) learnt regarding pesticides by communicating with retailers while 25.73% knew about it by interacting with co-farmers and 21.64% used consultancies to make themselves aware. It was seen that 83% of the people retained the pesticides in original container while 17% transferred it into their own containers. Protective measures during and after pesticide application are considered effective means of reducing the risks of farmer's health. In this study it was found that 65.5% of them used sticks to mix pesticides while 22.22% used bare hands for mixing. Almost all the farmers (93.57%) claimed to wash their hands with soap after using pesticides. It was found that 74% growers were aware that protective equipment had to be used while using pesticides. Face mask (58.48%) and hand gloves (15.79%) were the most commonly used safety ware. 77% of the farmers used hand pump to spray pesticides while the rest used hand. For storage 51.47% used storage room, 36.25% stored outside the houses while 12.28% stored it inside the houses. The used containers were thrown into open fields (59.06%), 12.87% threw them into dustbin, 1.75% returned them to company and 26.31% buried them. It was observed that most of the farmers (70.17%) washed the equipment outside the house which drains the pesticide remains into the soil while 23.98% washed it near lake or river. The growers stated that 36.84% of remains from washed equipment's reached canal while 35.09% reached drainage [Table 3].{Table 3}

Farmers awareness on pesticides poisoning

It was reported that 75.43% of the farmers knew the ill effects of pesticides completely and 24.57% were not aware. During the use of pesticides farmers reported problems such as eye irritation (32.75%), headache (25.15%), dizziness (10.53%), breathing difficulty (2.34%), skin rashes (2.34%) and 7.02% claimed to have experienced all of these symptoms at least once during their exposure to pesticides [Table 4]. When such symptoms are seen 69.60% responded that they would consult a doctor, 23.40% ignored and 3.50% used home remedies. 76.02% of the respondents said that they experienced long term effects with the use of pesticides.{Table 4}

Associations between symptoms reporting and pesticide poisoning

There was significant association between occurrence of headache and a number of risk behaviors: (i) Use of personal protective equipment (P < 0.01); (ii) Pesticide storage area (P < 0.02); (iii) Equipment washing practices (P < 0.03).


Exposure of farmers to pesticides is immense especially in rural areas. So understanding farmer's level of knowledge, their attitudes and levels of awareness of pesticide safety is essential. This helps in providing sound educational and policy strategies for avoiding the dangers of pesticides and for reducing potential pollution to agricultural systems. Hence the present study aimed to understand the knowledge, attitude and practices of farmers of Kaivara village, South Karnataka, India. Oral communication with the farmers helped us to obtain information about the use of pesticides and the safety measures they follow while handling those pesticides.

Out of 171 study participant's majority of them were male farmers, who were directly involved with pesticides, either during pesticides preparation and/or its application in the field. Similar results were found in the studies conducted in brazil by Juliana Oliveira Pasiani et al.,[4] Experience of the farmworker in pesticide handling has been taken into account to know its contribution on knowledge and practice of safe use of pesticides. Most of the study respondents were involved in the farming for more than 6 years which shows that they would have been well versed with the farming techniques and usage of pesticides.[5] Insecticides were commonly used pesticides because insect pests were more common in study site in cultivating Ragi and vegetables. Similar results were found in a study in Tanzania[6] whereas study results were contrary to a study in Nigeria, where herbicides were commonly used to control pests.

Farmer's knowledge and behavior

Most of the study participants were aware of pesticides they use and the harmful effects related to it. Participants said that the information was provided by retailers and co-farmers were more reliable than the information provided by media advertisements. This could be because applying the information provided in advertisements to real scenarios is difficult.[7] For people working with hazardous substances, it is compulsory to use personal protective equipment. A proper protection can enhance not only the safety of the workers but also work productivity.[8] In our study many growers were aware that protective equipment had to be used while applying pesticides. Face mask and hand gloves were most commonly used safety ware. Similar study results were found by Mohanty et al.,[9] The study results of Karunamoorthi et al., showed that about 127 (81.4%) farmers were using knapsack sprayer, 29 (18.6%) of them applied pesticides by means of small cans with several holes, as a pesticide applicator.[10] Whereas in our study 22.22% of the farmers did not use any pesticide applicator which indicates a high risk of exposure leading to health hazards. Pesticide storage in unguarded sites is more common practice in many developing countries.[6],[11] Our study results showed that 36.25% of farmers stored pesticides inside the house and 12.28% stored them outside the house which shows there is high potential for exposure of farmers and family members due to storage in highly accessible places.[12]

Unsafe disposal of both unwanted pesticides and empty pesticide containers could put general population at higher risk. Majority of our study respondents reported that containers were thrown into open fields. This unsafe practice has an impact on environment by contaminating soil, surface and ground water and also poses risk to non-target organisms.[9],[12] Similar results were found in a study conducted by Maria Celina et al.,[13] Proper safety procedures need to be undertaken while cleaning pesticide containing equipment's.[14] In our study we observed that even though most of the farmers washed the equipment outside the house, the washing area was in proximity of the house and few of the farmers washed near the lakes or rivers. These indiscreet practices possess severe risk to the inhabitants.

Farmer's awareness on pesticides poisoning

In our study the awareness on the dangers of pesticide use to human health and the environment provided interesting results. About 64.33% of the farmers knew the ill effects of pesticides. Similar studies conducted in Kuwait by Mustapha et al.,[15] also reported that majority of the farmers strongly agree that pesticides causes ill-effects to human health. The study conducted by Mohanty et al. also shows that the farmers were aware that the pesticides are toxic to both environment and human body.[9] With regard to self-reported toxicity symptoms associated with pesticide use, our study results showed that 90% of the farmers reported problems. The most common symptoms among the farm workers were eye irritation, headache, dizziness, breathing difficulty, skin rashes and 7% claimed to have experienced all of these symptoms at least once during their exposure to pesticides. Symptoms associated with pesticide use in a study conducted by Karunamoorthi et al., were headache (58.8%), salivation and vomiting (38.2%), nausea (36.5%), and sneezing (12.5%).[10] The reason for toxic effects of the pesticides used in the study area may be exposure to carcinogens and suspected endocrine disruptors.[16]


The findings of the study indicate that knowledge level is adequate among farmers but this did not reflect in their practice. There is a need for continuous pesticide safety education along with training to the farmers regarding use of personal protective devices, personal hygiene and sanitation practices during and after application of pesticides. In addition, promotion of alternative pest control strategies such as application of bio pesticides can be introduced. This would reduce the dependency of chemical pesticides as well as their adverse impact on human health and environment.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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