2005 Volume 43 Issue 4 Pages 669-676
In Thailand, agriculture is one of the major occupations; however, there is no comprehensive agricultural occupational health promotion and disease prevention model available. Objectives of this study were to empower farmers to study occupational health and safety situation in rice farming and to develop model to promote their health and prevent occupational health hazards among them. This participatory action research was performed in Tambol Klong 7, Klongluang district, Pathumthani, Thailand. The 24 rice farmers from 9 villages were voluntarily recruited as members of research team called farmer-leader research group. This group had a monthly meeting to discuss issues of agricultural occupational health and safety during 3 yr study period. At first stage, farmer-leader research group analyzed occupational health and safety during rice farming process. After we had results from situation analysis, farmer-leader research group decided which problems would be solved first. We developed model to solve those problems during the second stage. Finally, model was implemented to farmers in the study area. During first stage, results of questionnaires showed that there were 3 major occupational health and safety problems among these farmers; symptoms from pesticide exposure (65% of respondents), musculoskeletal problems during various process (16.6%-75.9%), and injuries during various process (1.1%-83.2%). From these results, farmer-leader research group decided to deal with pesticide problem. There was an experiment comparing using biofertilizers and bio pest-control with using chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the rice paddy. Results showed that the biological field produced the same amount of rice as the chemical field but cost less money than the chemical one. Benefits from using biofertilizers and bio pest-control were having higher profit, less exposure to chemicals, and good mental health from higher profit. After this experiment, biofertilizers and bio pest-control were disseminated to rice-farmers and students and teachers in local schools. At the end of study, we found that there were networks of farmers and networks of students-teachers using biological methods. This study showed that participation with farmers could create a real sustainable model to promote farmers' health and prevent them from occupational health hazards.