Objectives: To evaluate smallholder farmers’ recall of pesticide use and exposure determinants over a two-year period in a low-income country context.
Methods: The Pesticide Use in Tropical Settings (PESTROP) study in Uganda consists of 302 smallholder farmers who were interviewed in 2017. In the same season in 2019, these farmers were re-questioned concerning pesticide use (e.g., use of active ingredients) and exposure information (e.g., crops, personal protective equipment [PPE], hygienic behaviours) they had previously provided. The extent of recall bias was assessed by comparing responses at follow-up in 2019 with practices and behaviours reported from the baseline interview in 2017.
Results: An 84% (n=255) follow-up response rate was attained. We found instances of better recall (e.g., overall agreement >70% and Area Under the Curve (AUC) values >0.7) for the use of some active ingredients, commonly used PPE items, and washing clothes after application, whereas only 13.3% could correctly recall their three major crops. We observed a trend where more individuals reported the use of active ingredients, while fewer reported the use of PPE items, two years later. In general, we found better agreement in the recall of years working with pesticides compared to hours per day or days per week in the field, with no apparent systematic over or under reporting by demographic characteristics.
Conclusions: While some of these findings provide consistency with those from high-income countries, more research is needed on recall in poorly educated agriculture communities in low- and middle-income settings to confirm these results.