How to use agrochemicals correctly


Advertisements will always entice us and influence what we buy. The same applies to farm inputs.
However, experts advise that one must always insist on knowing the active ingredient (AI) in the product.

Agricultural chemicals are classified as herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. All are broken down into classes from one, two, three and four, where the toxic level differs at each stage.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations, any package of an agrochemical must have a colour code approved by the body based on the different classes, ranging from red, blue, green and yellow.

Red means danger and any chemical with a red strip should be handled with utmost care. A chemical with a green strip means safe and handling with minimal precaution will not cause harm.

Many farmers in Kenya have eliminated class one (red-striped) chemicals because of the high toxic levels. Some are said to be carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Before any agrochemical reaches a farmer, it must be registered by the PCPB (Pest Control Products Board). Those that do not pass through this body are deemed counterfeits. PCPB will put a label on the product stating the manufacturer, distributor, what it is used for and the rate of usage. Farmers should make sure the product they buy has a seal by the manufacturer and is purchased from approved distributors, who are trained, especially on safety.

When you first receive a product, check the expiry date. If it has expired, return it to the manufacturer. He or she will know how to dispose of it. Alternatively, they can advice on how the disposal should be done.

Do not come up with your own specifications of use. Follow the recommendations. If it says two litres per acre, this should strictly be adhered to. This will ensure the chemical is fully utilised and minimise wastage.

An under-dose will create a resistant trait to the product while an overdose will cause the crops to burn and affect the health of the person handling it.

Timing is vital when applying chemicals and must be done at specific times. Do not spray during daytime because it will affect not only the plant, but also the person applying. Spray very early in the morning or late evening when the air is still. This will ensure the chemicals land where they are needed.

Chemicals should be applied to the target disease or pest, do not spray a pesticide just for the sake of doing it.

Distributors stock products from different manufacturers. It is, therefore, important that farmers get the manufacturer’s address correctly because it is only them who can give correct advice in case of intoxification. In case you ingest a chemical by mistake, seek an antidote from the manufacturer.

Little things that we take for granted end up affecting us negatively. The same applies to agrochemical applications. When applying the chemicals, put on the right protective gear, technically referred to as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

They are normally designed based on the product classes’ toxic level, where someone spraying a class one chemical has a specific PPE and same applies to the other classes. Protective gear should be worn from head to toe.
Vital information on the products is found on its labels. It is, therefore, crucial to read the label with utmost care and avoid relying on advertisements alone


From Smart farmer magazine edition 53. Find your favourite Smart Farmer Magazine at Naivas Supermarkets and TotalEnergies Bonjour shops across the country. You can also join our subscription list and get the magazine delivered directly to your post box OR buy a soft copy at

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