HA NOI — The high use of chemicals and machinery in agriculture is putting farmers at high risk.
|Farmers cultivate rice with a Kubota machine in Dai Ang Commune in Ha Noi's Thanh Tri District. The high use of chemicals and machinery in agriculture is putting farmers at risk of injury or illness. – VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
Ha Tat Thang, director of the Labour Safety Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that compared with people in other industries, farmers faced an alarming rate of work accidents.
A survey by the ministry showed that nearly 90 per cent of farmers do not know how to use machinery properly and 28.4 per cent do not have a proper understanding on the use of electricity.
Authorities also generally fail to control the quality of imported or self-modified farm machinery. In addition, most of the machinery sold has few instructions on how it should be used, especially imported multi-function machinery.
The ministry said out of every 100,000 people working in the sector, 799 had electricity-related accidents and 856 had accidents relating to machines.
According to the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, about 20,000 people are injured on farms each year – 1,500 of them fatal.
Moreover, just 19.3 per cent of farmers are aware of the harm that can be caused by chemicals they use every day.
More than 70 per cent of farmers buy chemical products without knowing their origin or composition and 94 per cent of them use the chemical without proper instructions.
And about 29.4 per cent do not know how to spray pesticides safely.
According to a survey in the provinces of Thai Binh, Thai Nguyen, Dong Thap and Dak Lak, in the last three years, a total of nearly 4,900 people were poisoned by chemicals.
Vice chairman of northern Thai Nguyen Province's Farmers' Association Nguyen Hai Khe said that there were training courses to help farmers improve their understanding and skills about labour safety.
However, while many followed instructions at the beginning, they often reverted to unsafe routines, declaring that protective equipment was inconvenient.
Nguyen Van Doi from the province's Dai Tu District said that he bought a rice crusher machine and taught himself to use it.
Last year, boiling water from the machine's tank splashed onto his face, nearly sending him blind.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Government has announced it will fund a project to improve labour safety in high-risk industries in Viet Nam including agriculture. The three-year project will benefit people in Bac Kan, Hai Phong, Ha Tinh, Quang Ngai and Dong Nai.
At present, there are about 22 million people working in agriculture, accounting for more than 52 per cent of the total workforce and contributing 20 per cent of GDP. — VNS