The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security of Barbados and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations will be hosting and participating in a meeting of regional agricultural chemical management experts next week to highlight advancements and identify priorities in the safe life cycle management of pesticides and toxic chemicals in the Caribbean.

The discussions will take place during the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Coordinating Group of Pesticides Control Boards of the Caribbean (CGPC), scheduled from June 11 to 13, 2018 in Barbados at the Courtyard by Marriott, The Garrison Historic Area, Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados.

Representatives from twelve CGPC member countries along with facilitators and observers from industry, international agencies and academia are expected to attend.

Experts from FAO’s Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean will update participants on the achievements of its Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded project “Disposal of Obsolete Pesticides Including POPS, Promotion of Alternatives and Strengthening Pesticides Management in the Caribbean’’. The four-year project is being implemented in collaboration with the CGPC.

The project was designed to safely dispose of obsolete pesticides stocks, apply research methodologies for the remediation of pesticides-contaminated sites, help develop systems for the management of empty pesticides containers, identify Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) being used in the region for phase-out, promote alternatives to toxic pesticides and help strengthen the regulatory framework for the life cycle management of pesticides in the Caribbean region.

Obsolete pesticides, which can no longer be used for any purpose are dangerous toxic waste. Stockpiles of these pesticides are often poorly stored and the toxic chemicals leak into the environment, threatening human and environmental health. Empty containers are also dangerous because they contain pesticide residues and are often used to store food or water.

To date, the project has successfully collaborated with national-level partners to complete inventories of highly hazardous and obsolete pesticides, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), in 12 Caribbean countries. The collaboration has also resulted in the safe removal of 320 tonnes of these dangerous chemical stockpiles, as well as contaminated containers, from nine countries in the region.

“By decreasing exposure to highly hazardous and obsolete pesticides, we have brought significant community and environmental health benefits to several Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago,” said Mr. Guy Mathurin, Regional Project Coordinator at the FAO Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean.

The FAO’s other achievements in this area, include building capacity of 30 participants from 15 Caribbean countries to use the FAO Pesticides Registration Toolkit, a decision support system that helps pesticide registrars in developing countries evaluate dossiers which have been submitted to support the registration of pesticides products for use in those countries.

At the meeting, during the working sessions, under the theme “Sustainability, Future Developments and Directions”, countries are expected to identify their priorities for the next 10 – 15 years in pesticides and toxic chemicals management. Areas to be considered will include: alternatives to agricultural chemicals; reduction in the use of HHPs used in the food chain; strengthening regional collaboration, related legislation and the regulatory framework for the sound management of pesticides and chemicals; management and safe disposal of agricultural plastics contaminated by POPs and pesticides; data collection, information sharing and knowledge platform, including educational programmes engaging gender mainstreaming and youth participation.   Industry representatives will be expected to indicate their potential contributions to the above areas of pesticides and chemicals life cycle management.

The meeting will also be supported by the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat and the Global Environment Facility who will have facilitators participating in the consultations.

 “The FAO has been working with and supporting the CGPC since its inception. We are pleased to continue this partnership through the Disposal of Obsolete Pesticides Including POPS, Promotion of Alternatives and Strengthening Pesticides Management in the Caribbean project and look forward to identifying new areas that we can work together to address going forward,” said Ms. Vyjayanthi Lopez, Plant Production and Protection Officer at the FAO Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean.

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