A newly proposed Pacific Regional Pesticide Registration Scheme is expected to pave the way for monitoring of pesticide use in the region following discussions at the Pacific Week of Agriculture and Forestry (PWAF) in Nadi, Fiji last week.
Agricultural scientists and representatives from agriculture ministries and private sectors, attended the PWAF side event hosted by SPC and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) titled Promoting ecologically based alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides to enhance food safety and security in the Pacific region.
The Pacific Community (SPC) pest and disease advisor, Fereti Atumurirava said pesticide use in the Pacific Island countries has doubled over the last decade, a much larger increase than the global average.
“The current trend of high reliance on pesticides for agricultural production in the Pacific islands has raised many concerns among policymakers, given its impact on human health and the fragile island ecosystems,” said Atumurirava.
In Fiji alone, use of insecticides and herbicides increased 34-fold between 1992 and 2013, according to FAO. In 2014, there were 89 highly hazardous pesticides registered or available in the Pacific, including chemicals listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention (such as brodifacoum, benomyl, paraquat, methomyl, bifenthrin, carbaryl, diazinon and chlorpyriphos).
“While annual import trends show an increase in pesticide use, the technical capacity to make informed registration decisions on pesticides, and to manage and control their use, is very limited. This is due to poor regulatory and compliance processes, limited technical capacity for the evaluation of pesticide risks, lack of staffing for the registration of pesticides, (agro)ecosystem sensitivity to pesticide disruption, and constraints on using personal protective equipment due to hot weather conditions,” said Atumurirava.
Under the proposed Pacific Regional Pesticide Registration Scheme (PRPRS), funded by FAO and implemented by SPC, member countries will have access to a pool of available expertise on pesticides and will strengthen their capacity to make informed decisions on pesticide registration.
This will result in effective and high-quality pesticide products being registered for use, and in the long run reduce pesticide risks on human health and the environment.
At present, Cook Islands, Kiribati and Solomon Islands have signed an MOU with SPC under the scheme.
The Head of Cook Islands Ministry of Agriculture, Temarama Anguna-Kamana says the PRPRS will help farmers and importers in the long run.
“We need a proper process in place. We are only doing this for the best of our country. This is not taking away from our farmers and importers and not providing alternatives – they do need ecologically based alternatives, and this can be made available through this partnership with SPC and FAO.
We are happy Cook Islands have signed up for this scheme and I would recommend it to our Pacific neighbours. It is a regional project and we as a region should be part of this,” concluded Anguna-Kamana.
While sharing FAO’s technical cooperation programme on promoting ecological alternatives in the Pacific region, FAO Agriculture Officer on Plant Production and Protection (Samoa) Hemant Nitturkar said that while significant steps have been made to address pesticide management in the region and to promote more ecological approaches to pest management, most of the efforts need consolidation, especially in terms of technical capacity at the national and regional level.
“Solomon Islands has prioritized the adoption of improved technology, organic pesticides, and biological control agents to reduce pest damage and increase yields,” he said. “However, few low-risk products like biopesticides are currently registered in the Pacific and their use is limited by poor awareness, supply or simply lack of confidence in their effectiveness.”
He added that the Governments of Fiji, Samoa, and Cook Islands have acknowledged the need to update their legislative and regulatory instruments.
The Pacific Regional Pesticide Registration Scheme project is due to be launched once two more Pacific nations or territories sign up to join Cook Islands, Kiribati and Solomon Islands.
The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organisation in the region, owned and governed by its 27 member countries and territories. www.spc.int
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