, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 827-839
Date: 30 Oct 2012

Distribution of health costs of pesticide use by household economy

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Abstract

We observed skewed distribution across household of benefits of pesticide use in vegetable farming in Nepal. However, economic burden or harm of pesticide use and exposure by household economy is poorly studied. It is hypothesized that exaggerated and incompetent pesticide use is likely to affect human health that may lead to decline in human productivity, and economic loss––that may further marginalize farmers. Thus, a study was conducted in the Ansi khola watershed of Kavrepalanchowk District of central Nepal. The primary aim of the study was to value risks of pesticide use and to estimate health costs of exposure by household category. We grouped household into “large-scale” who owns more than 1 ha of agricultural land, “small-scale” having <0.5 ha and “medium-scale” in between >0.5 and <1 ha. Data were collected through (1) an initial household survey conducted from May to June 2008, (2) monthly visit surveys accomplished from June to November 2008 and (3) a final household survey conducted during November to December 2009. The cost of pesticide use and exposure was highest for medium-scale household; however, the economic burden in relation to incomes was the highest for small-scale household. On the basis of area under vegetables, small-scale household incurred 23 % higher economic burdens compared to the large-scale household. Overall, the cost of pesticide use and exposure amounted 15 % of agricultural income and/or 5 % of gross household income. For small-scale households, the cost was equivalent to 18 % of agricultural income and 6 % of gross income. Small-scale households are not only deprived from benefits of agriculture intensification, but also incurred highest burden of pesticide use.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10668-013-9458-9.