Assessment of pesticide residue levels among locally produced fruits and vegetables in Monze district, Zambia

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Background: The use of pesticides in fruits and vegetable production is beneficial for preventing, destroying or repelling pests that may damage these crops. The use of these chemicals however, often leads to the presence of residues in the fruits and vegetables after harvest. This study investigated farmers’ compliance to applicable national standards by assessing pesticide residues in selected locally produced fruits and vegetables in two study sites in Monze, Zambia. The study used mixed methods (convergent parallel) design. We procured rape, cabbages, tomato and orange samples from conveniently sampled fruit and vegetable farmers around Hachaanga and St. Mary’s areas in Monze, Zambia. Samples were analyzed for residues of dichlorvos using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Estimated average daily intakes (EADI) were calculated using standard formula. We also explored farmers’ practices in dealing with regulatory issues in pesticide use and handling. A total of 14 key informant interviews with farmers, agriculture and public health officers and one policy maker were undertaken using a semi structured interview guide, were voice recorded, later transcribed and analyzed using Nvivo 10 software. Results: Results revealed detectable residues in 63.3% of 30 tested samples out of which three samples (one each of cabbage, tomato and orange samples) exceeded the codex Alimentarius maximum residual limit (0.1 mg/kg). However, all samples had residues below the Zambia Food and Drugs standard (0.5 ppm). The EADIs were also below WHO/FAO allowable daily intake recommended in all fruit and vegetable samples; however hazard indices for cabbage and oranges were close to the value one. In regard to farmers’ practices, results showed great variation in pesticide use and handling, limited knowledge, observation of reduced waiting periods and limited monitoring and regulation of pesticide use among farmers. Conclusion: Our investigation found that all our samples had residues within the locally applicable regulation limits. All our EADIs were below the FAO/WHO limits. However, farmers’ practices in pesticide use and handling were not conformity to guidelines. Therefore, there is need for educating food producers on handling and hazards ofpesticides in Zambia.




Mwanja, M., Jacobs, C., Mbewe, A. R., & Munyinda, N. S. (2017). Assessment of pesticide residue levels among locally produced fruits and vegetables in Monze district, Zambia. International Journal of Food Contamination, 4(1).

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