Farmers pay price for using banned pesticide

By : Noor Adzman Baharuddin

The pesticide which was said to have caused farmers to suffer rashes and a weakness in the joints.

ALOR STAR: Some 800 padi farmers in Air Hitam here have resorted to a banned pesticide to rid their fields of a type of snail known as "siput gondang emas".
Although they were aware that the pesticide was banned, they found it effective against the freshwater snails which feed on padi seedlings and saplings.

They claimed that they enjoyed a high yield last season.

Most of them, however, are now suffering from skin rashes and weak joints, believed to have been caused by direct exposure to the pesticide.

It is believed the pesticide was smuggled from China and brought in through Thailand.
Many of the farmers turned down requests for interviews for fear of reprisals from the authorities for using the banned pesticide.

However, one of them, Ibrahim Musa, admitted his folly. He said he and some friends had bought the pesticide on the black market due to a delay in the supply of government-subsidised pest-killers.

"The pesticide is very potent. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to rid the snails from our fields compared with up to two weeks with other pesticides. But we now realise the consequences of our mistake."

The 52-year-old said he began suffering from skin rashes and weak joints a few weeks ago after harvesting his crop. "Doctors have confirmed that our health problems were caused by the pesticide."

The pesticide comes in 5kg bags labelled in Chinese. Each bag bears the words "Kill Snails Fast".

Muda Agricultural Development Authority (padi industry) director Fouzi Ali confirmed the pesticide was banned a few years ago because it could cause cancer in humans after prolonged exposure. It contains endosulfan, which is highly toxic

However, the effect on consumers who eat food exposed to the pesticide is unknown.