George, ready to risk his health to make a living

George Mwaura, 47, keeps dairy and grows vegetables using terracing on one of the many slopes that make up hilly Kiambu. His cows give him an average of 70 litres of milk a day. He relies on pesticides, even though he knows they are a threat to his health and his food.

George says the changes in the weather patterns between 1970 and today have led to an increase in pests and lack of water making farming an expensive venture. He not only has to use about 10,000 litres of water daily for irrigation but also has to spend money on pesticides to control the pests.

“After spending a whole day spraying my vegetables with chemicals, in the evening, sleeping is problematic. The chemicals affect my breathing but I do not have any other option.”

The effect of these pesticides on his health are clear. “After spending a whole day spraying my vegetables with chemicals, in the evening, sleeping is problematic. The chemicals affect my breathing but I do not have any other option.”

George would be very willing to rely on safer and sustainable methods of pest control, but he clearly is not informed enough. George did not know that cow dung can be turned into manure, so he adds chemical fertiliser to his soil to make the vegetables look greener, healthier looking and grow faster. In his heart, he knows the chemicals that make him sick cannot be healthy for his vegetables.
As a farmer, George relies heavily on seasonal rains and weather patterns for his livelihood. Weather information is a very important factor but he uses guesswork in determining the weather, just because the information from local radios is not reliable.
The county government sometimes offers fertilisers to the farmers but George says it’s not enough and the bureaucracy just puts farmers off. So, George requests that the government provides subsidised fertiliser and seedlings.

Subsidizing input is not the solution. George knows that pesticides are not good for his health or for his land but he has no access to proper information on alternative solutions. Buying inputs endangers his health and his economic stability, while using eco-farming practices would not cost him a cent or his health.

Comments for this post are closed.