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Thursday, May 30, 2024
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    Pesticides as “Medicine”, Investigating Pesticide Use Among Farmers by USU Student

    The escalating use of pesticides has become a cause for concern. In just the past decade, pesticide usage has surpassed previous levels, raising significant alarm due to its impacts not only on the environment but also on farmers, with further implications extending to consumers. Clearly, this situation is quite worrisome.

    Novi Fitriani Nazara, a student of the Social Anthropology Department at Universitas Sumatera Utara, conducted research to delve into pesticide usage in one of the largest agricultural areas in North Sumatra. “Indonesia’s position is alarming as it ranks among the top five countries in the world in terms of pesticide usage,” stated Novi, the researcher. “This is based on data from the FAO in 2024. However, we acknowledge that the actual data may be much larger”.

    After conducting research for four months in the Karo Regency using a live-experienced approach, Novi elucidated, “I found that pesticide usage is intertwined with local perceptions. Farmers express that pesticides are their only option. They are facing changing climates, and they do not want to fail in their harvests. “Ironically even though they are aware of the health impacts of pesticides, they overlook them. They view pesticides as medicine for their plants, similar to how humans need treatment when they are sick.”

    The research supervisor, Dr. Fotarisman Zaluchu, revealed that this study employs a structural violence approach. By utilizing the concept of structural violence, we reflect on the vulnerable position of farmers exposed to pesticides, while they are far from accessing health empowerment. This research demonstrates that farmers do not receive adequate protection to prevent continuous exposure to pesticides. “Thus, the use of pesticides by farmers is a long-standing consequence of human-nonhuman relations, leading to dependency effects. This cannot be severed as the government plays a limited role in protecting farmers, instead allowing these incidents to persist.”

    Novi presented her research findings in a seminar organized by the Social Anthropology Department at the end of April 2024. It is hoped that this research will produce a policy brief that will benefit stakeholders.