Agrochemical Use in South Africa: The toxicological and sociological impacts of agrochemicals on susceptible populations in South Africa's agricultural sector
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The purpose of this paper is to explore the influences and impacts of South Africa’s use of agrochemicals in its agricultural sector. South Africa has a rich history, and some of those historical influences, such as apartheid and the subsequent capitalization and industrialization of the agricultural sector are relevant to the subject of agrochemical toxicity. The paper then explores the different types of agrochemicals used in South Africa. Different types of pesticides have differing levels of toxicity, and the adverse health impacts of high exposure are varied. Furthermore, I look at obsolete pesticides as a major problem in South Africa, and the need for a method of disposal of these chemicals. The paper explores susceptible populations who are harmed by the excessive use of agrochemicals. The low income farming population is at a high risk for agrochemical poisoning, due to a severe lack of knowledge and communication of the health risks involved with agrochemical use. Furthermore, I discuss the evolving roles of women in the South African agricultural context, including the fact that female farmers are often at a higher risk for unhealthy pesticide exposure, and are a population that is being marginalized through lack of proper safety education and training. The paper concludes by exploring different ways to reduce agrochemical poisoning, such as the implementation of education programs and pesticide safety programs. Alternatives to high input agriculture are also discussed in terms of sustainability. Integrated pest management (IPM) is a promising alternative as it stresses the need to use agrochemicals sparingly. Also, IPM is a proven method to educate and empower the farmer. The model of agriculture in South Africa is unsustainable, and the system needs to change.