German multinational pharmaceutical firm Bayer AG targets to capture a huge population of Filipino farmers who don’t use personal protective equipment (PPE) for its newest product offering — a safety kit that aims to protect agricultural workers from chemical hazards of their work.
A statement showed that Bayer Crop Science (BCS) will be implementing a pilot project in selected agricultural towns in the Philippines that aims to make PPEs available for farmers when applying crop protection products in their fields.
The project will be implemented in vegetable-producing municipalities of Buguias and La Trinidad in Benguet and the rice areas of Bayambang, Pangasinan and Concepcion, Tarlac.
As part of it, BCS will provide farmers a safety package that is composed of 2 filter face masks, a pair of nitrile gloves, and goggles.
“While Filipino farmers seeking good yields ensure that their crops are protected from insect pests and diseases, most farmers do not use the complete recommended PPE at the time when spraying is necessary,” BCS said.
Based on a survey conducted by Bayer, only six out of 10 farmers wear a face mask when preparing and applying crop protection products.
Among those who do sport them, they use the surgical mask type, which is not recommended as it doesn’t protect the farmer from potential inhalation of the product due to dispersal and wind changes.
“The right face mask when spraying crop protection products are those with a filter, ideally FFP2 type,” said BSC Regulatory Stewardship and Compliance Lead David Cristobal.
“FFP2 masks have three layers of synthetic non-woven materials with the inclusion of filtration layers between, and they provide sufficient protection for farmers,” he added.
In addition to low and incorrect mask use in the survey, only 10 percent of farmers use googles when spraying crop protection products, while 60 percent use surgical gloves, which is also not the right material to shield the farmers’ hands.
“As part of our stewardship efforts, we make it a point to train farmers on the proper application of crop protection products, which includes wearing full PPE when spraying,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead for Bayer Crop Science.
“A complete PPE set is comprised of boots, long-sleeved shirts, trousers, nitrile gloves, filter mask, and goggles,” he added.
While nearly all farmers said that PPE is important to protect themselves from any harm, some reasons why they chose not to wear them include the cost, unavailability, and lack of comfort.
From the pilot project, Bayer will be selling the Safety Kit through selected distributors in the four municipalities with the objective of gauging farmer adoption of the PPE and generating insights from the initiative.
The farmer also has the option to purchase individual items instead of the entire kit.
“We’re hoping that this project can solve some of the concerns of farmers on low and wrong PPE usage and that this will help sustain their health as they continue to provide food for all of us,” said Lao.