Vegetables

HEALTH AUTHORITIES could soon be grappling with a grave public health concern as vegetables sold in Accra markets have been found to contain up to 5000 times the permissible levels of chemical residue.

A survey carried out between 2007 and 2008 revealed that vegetables consumed in Accra had more than a dozen chemicals all above tolerable percentages and this holds serious consequences for the health of consumers.

George Ortsin, Country Programme Coordinator of the Small Grants Programme of the UNDP/Global Environment Facility (GEF), revealed this in an interview with the GNA at a media consultative workshop organized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the weekend in Accra.

He said the high rates of chemical residue could be as a result of some farmers resorting to the use of banned chemicals, including Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT) to control pests and weeds to maximize yield.

He said samples collected from various markets across the capital established that in most cases, the chemical residue in them exceeded 2000 percent and the least recorded was 500 percent.

Mr. Ortsin said that the phenomenon spelt doom for both human health and the environment, because the cumulative effects of consuming these vegetables over a long period may soon manifest in diverse health problems.

He said even though there had been intensified educational campaigns on the need to minimize the use of pesticides in farming, some middle men and farmers still smuggled the banned chemicals through the country?s porous borders.

What compounded the situation, he said was the lack of capacity of border control officials to detect the chemicals which had become sophisticated in nature as farmers were now mixing more than 20 substances for maximum effect.

He said the report was made available to government and that the survey would be repeated in 2013.

Sources of the contaminated vegetables he revealed included Weija, Ada and Kawukudi in the Greater Accra region, Keta in the Volta region and Akomadan in the Ashanti region.

Mr. Ortsin said in order to safeguard the health of Ghanaians and the environment, emphasis should be placed on the promotion of organic farming. The GEF programme intended to introduce organic certification of vegetables in the country and make it available at supermarkets and various outlets across the country.

To counter the problem, he revealed that an Indian company was to set up an organic fertilizer plant in the country soon, and by December negotiations would be completed for the pilot phase of the programme to begin in early 2013.

GNA

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