STRATEGIES FOR MINIMISING HEALTH RISKS OF WASTEWATER FOR POOR FARMERS IN THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
The study was carried out in Tamale, Northern Ghana, from August 2007 to March 2009. The objectives were to identify common vegetables grown under informal irrigation, identify the sources of water used in vegetable production, evaluate the quality of water used and evaluate appropriate options for minimizing the health risks of wastewater. Four areas in Tamale (Sagani, Bulpiela, Gumbihini and Zagyuri) where informal irrigation of vegetables is widely practiced were selected. Semi-structured questionnaires, field observation and farmers group discussions were used to collect data on farmer conditions, field conditions as well as information on irrigated vegetable production. Questionnaires were administered to a random sample of sixty (60) farmers. The study also made use of inputs of 25 Urban Agriculture stakeholders discussions on wastewater in March 2009. Water and soil samples were taken from the four selected sites and analyzed. The results showed that farmers in Tamale operate a market oriented gardens in which mixed vegetables are grown. Sixty three percent (63%) of vegetable farmers include cabbage as the main crop in their gardens, 45% of farmers cultivate lettuce as the main crop, 35% of farmers cultivate amaranthus as main crop, 16% cultivate sweet pepper and less than 5% of farmers include spring onion, garden eggs, okro, tomatoes, carrot and Corchorus spp. About 56% of farmers have access to only wastewater in the dry season. Majority of farmers (93%) use watering cans and buckets to apply water to their crops. Over 85% of farmers have no ideas about safe irrigation methods. Additionally, 75% of farmers use synthetic chemicals for soil nutrition and crop protection. Analysis of irrigation water showed high levels of nitrate (54 mg/L), chloride (126 mg/L) at Sagani and higher levels of total coliform (1.2896×106 cfu/100 ml) and feacal coliform (4.528×103 cfu/100 ml) at Zagyuri. Analysis of soil showed poor N levels (0.06%) low organic carbon (0.6%) and low pH at all locations. The study indicates that farmers are aware of current public health concerns in relation to food safety. The study succeeded in building consensus among farmers and stakeholders on protecting water bodies in the urban environment from pollution, adoption of Bucket Kit Drip Irrigation, adoption of Clay Pot Sub-Surface Irrigation, better handling and washing of vegetables and enhanced information flow between vegetable value chain actors and consumers. Safe vegetable production in the urban environment requires the collaboration and training of Urban Agriculture stakeholders across the entire vegetable value chain.
Abubakari, A.-H., Husseini, R. and Addi, P.E. (2011). STRATEGIES FOR MINIMISING HEALTH RISKS OF WASTEWATER FOR POOR FARMERS IN THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT. Acta Hortic. 911, 123-132
vegetables, safe irrigation, food safety, wastewater reuse, urban agriculture