Full Length Research Paper
The abusive use of toxic agricultural chemicals (insecticides, fungicides and herbicides in particular) by farmers has attracted a lot of attention from environmentalists, scientists and policy makers. The use of these toxic agricultural chemicals not only contributes to environmental deterioration but equally poses major health risks to farmers and the general public. It is therefore incumbent on policy makers to take measures geared towards limiting the use of toxic agricultural chemicals. Some of these measures could be the vulgarization of agro-ecological farming practices like agroforestry. It is in this light that this study comparatively examined the use of toxic agricultural chemicals by agroforestry practicing and non-agroforestry practicing farmers in a bid to identify the most sustainable and viable option. Both primary and secondary data were collected for the study, and analysis was done using the statistical software Microsoft Excel 20007 and SPSS 17.0. It was found that the main crops grown by agroforestry practicing farmers were food and cash crops while non-agroforestry practicing farmers cultivated mainly market gardening crops and to some extent, food crops. Toxic agricultural chemicals (mainly fungicides, herbicides and insecticides) were used in large quantities and frequently by a majority (over 50%) of non-agroforestry practicing farmers, while less than 40% of agroforestry practicing farmers used toxic agricultural chemicals, mostly in small quantities and less frequently. A significant direct non-cause-effect and cause-effect relationship (p<0.05) existed between the non-cause-effect and cause-effect relationship (p<0.05) between the non-practice of agroforestry and the use of toxic agricultural chemicals, while a significant inverse non-cause-effect and cause-effect relationship (p<0.05) was found to exist between the practice of agroforestry and the use of toxic agricultural chemicals. This implies that the practice of agroforestry can play a major role in reducing the use of toxic agricultural chemicals by farmers. It is recommended that policy makers should formulate policies geared towards fast-tracking agroforestry into the mainstream as a sustainable and viable pathway to limiting the use of toxic agricultural chemicals by farmers.
Key words: Farmers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, agroforestry, sole cropping, Cameroon.
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