Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy yesterday highlighted the need for improved pesticide control,
particularly in the light of Guyana’s high suicide rate.
Minister Ramsammy said this as he delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of a three-day “Chemicals and Chemicals Management” workshop being held at Regency Suites, in Hadfield Street, Georgetown.
The event is being hosted by the Pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB).
The purpose of this seminar is to educate farmers and administrators on the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in the agriculture sector.
During his address, Dr. Ramsammy related that “while its (pesticides and toxic chemicals) poisonous nature can serve us well, it can also lead to great harm to humanity”. This, in the Minister’s opinion, is the essential reason for regulation.
He said that the passage of the Pesticide and Toxic Chemical Control Act and the setting up of the PTCCB in 2001, represented the government’s commitment to implementing proper regulation.
However, while regulations are in place, the Minister reiterated that the country should not ignore the role pesticides play in high suicide rates.
“We cannot escape the fact that in our country… these very useful chemicals are being used for suicide” said Dr Ramsammy. He added that “more than 70% of suicide cases are committed through ingestion of toxic chemicals.”
According to the Agriculture Minister, part of the reason for the high suicide rates is the lack of sensitization on the use of toxic chemical in agricultural production. This was further cited as the reason for the Ministry’s Service Provider Education Programme. As part of regulatory measures, Dr Ramsammy explained that education is vital to the prevention of the misuse of pesticides.
Recent studies by Dr Bhiro Harry, a psychiatrist attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), showed that the Administrative Regions that are most affected by suicide are Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. These regions also have the highest output of agricultural products in the country.
In addition to this, Dr. Harry found that the most common method of suicide is the ingestion of poisonous substances. Moreover, it was found that females attempt to commit suicide much more than males, while 50% of persons who commit suicide fall between the ages of 12 and 25.
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