Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

‘How it is grown doesn't matter, as long as it's on the table’: Pesticide use, uncertainty and future aspirations

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Agricultural pesticides are widely considered to be a crucial aspect of increasing food production, particularly in developing countries - despite concerns around their potentially harmful toxic effects. Based on 11 months of ethnographic fieldwork in 2019, the author explores how smallholder farmers in a rural community in western Kenya face new pest infestations introduced through global trade networks and exacerbated by climate change. In response, they increasingly adopt agricultural pesticides against these threats to their harvests to secure their aspirations for the future as well as shorter-term livelihoods. The author argues that the farmers were ‘trying’: trying out new things, unsure of the outcome, to secure livelihoods, food and good health. They shared concerns about toxic exposure and the potential effects of increased pesticide use. Yet the uncertain status of pesticides as both poison and medicine, combined with divergent temporalities of risk and exposure, meant that economic considerations heavily shaped decisions around pesticide use at a household level.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnthropology Today
Pages (from-to)25-28
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 202476216