Restructuring Extension on Herbicide Usage of Paddy Farmers in Anuradhapura District
Among various novel technologies which have been adopted in agriculture, agro-chemical usage is very wide. Herbicide is one such agro-chemical used extensively by farmers around the globe. It is believed that herbicides are a must for commercial level cultivation in order to eliminate unnecessary competition of weeds. However, in recent past, there have been many incidences of excess usage of herbicides, causing direct health and environmental issues around the world, including in Sri Lanka. In light of this, objective of the study is to explore how paddy farmers in Anuradhapura District utilize herbicides, factors affecting herbicide usage and to explore the most effective extension point related to herbicides usage. Four district secretaries namely: Nochchiyagama (n=68) and Thabuththegama (n=62) representing major irrigation scheme; Galenbidunuwewa (n=60) and Kahatagasdigiliya (n=60) representing minor irrigation scheme were proportionately selected according to farmer number. A multiple linear regression model was deployed to elicit the relationship between selected factors with usage of chemicals. Primary data were collected randomly from a sample of 250 farmers, targeting 2014/15 maha season. Results highlighted, frequency of extension received by the farmer (p<0.01), degree of understanding the label (p<0.05), education level (p<0.1), age of the farmer (p<0.05) and farming know-how (p<0.01) were significant on herbicide usage. Most frequently overused herbicide was Glyphosate (93%) and the exact amount would be 26.64g per acre. The overall average exposed time to chemicals for an individual was 3.5 hours per acre and average land extent was 5.5 acres. Only a very few (2%) used safety mix (gloves, masks, caps and boots) during handling and spraying of herbicides. Interestingly, the study revealed that the highest number of farmers (36%) preferred primary extension source on herbicide as agro-chemical retailers. Most effective extension point was identified as the agro-chemical retailer. Therefore, formal extension services should augment both agro-chemical retailer and distributors. As a regulatory body government should conduct regular monitoring process of the overall extension services.
KEYWORDS: Extension, Herbicides, Paddy