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Death Trade

Dr. Belkis Muthar Al-Ariqi


“Necessity is the mother of invention”. Perhaps this proverb is embodied in the invention of agricultural pesticides. With the emergence of many pests that destroyed various agricultural crops, threatened food security, and caused heavy losses to farmers, scientists came to invent pesticides as a solution to this problem, and at that time, it did not occur to anyone that this invention will become a disaster threatening human life, especially in Yemen, as a result of the excessive and indiscriminate use of it, and the use of smuggled pesticides, which are banned for their use internationally.


Indeed, pesticides have become a double-edged sword, especially in Yemen, which is considered one of the most developing countries to use pesticides, including counterfeits and smugglers, as the agricultural sector is the main source of income for a large part of the citizens, which drives them to use pesticides in a desire to protect their products from pests and diseases, increase production and as an enhancer for growth, it works on picking them quickly and reaping many profits for them.


However, the problem with the use of pesticides in Yemen lies in their excessive and indiscriminate use by farmers, as some farmers are ignorant of the methods of using and handling pesticides, and they do not adhere to the instructions and guidelines for the safety bulletin written on pesticide cans.


And what makes matters worse is the entry of various types of smuggled pesticides that are forbidden to be traded and used internationally. From time to time, local news from here or there informs us of the seizure of large quantities of banned pesticides in the local markets, which are a real threat to the earth and human beings.

Among these banned pesticides and smuggled into Yemen (Topaz and Dioxin), which contain chemicals, and increase the effectiveness of the substance in which they work, to increase the agitation of vegetative growth in trees. The danger of these substances increases in the indiscriminate use without adherence to the permissible doses and the number of uses.

Although the trade of banned pesticides is prohibited internationally, as the World Health Organization called it the death trade, it is noticeable that in the last five years, the trade of these pesticides has increased in Yemen, and its dealers are increasing and competing to smuggle these deadly products, where they sell and store them without oversight, follow-up and accountability, due to the shortcomings of the concerned authorities, especially in light of the current situation that the country is going through.


And although these authorities concerned with curbing the smuggling of these pesticides are represented by the Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture, they confirm that pesticide smuggling crimes are constantly occurring, while they attribute this to the lack of capabilities and adequate laboratories to examine banned pesticides.


In addition to that, the Ministry of Agriculture's officially confirmed in 2018 A.D that there are external parties seeking to flood the local market with banned pesticides. These pesticides cause many damages to the environment, such as pollution of soil and water, as well as directly harm the health of rural and urban residents, as they are affected by fatal diseases such as cancer and liver virus of both types, and some of them lead to kidney failure and multiple other diseases that affect the respiratory and nervous system, as confirmed by doctors, in particular among the users of the Qat tree, because 70% of the toxins banned in Yemen, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, are used to spray the Qat tree.


Based on the above, it is necessary to highlight the danger of this “ silent killer” to human life and the environment in Yemen, and we ask the official authorities to activate awareness-raising and guidance methods for farmers, and to support them with protective means, such as gloves, masks, shoes and spray clothes, in addition to setting up a mechanism to prevent the trade of pesticides in an illegal way,  tightening the penalties currently stipulated, and the control over sales shops in districts that are far from the eyes of the official authorities

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