NSP - Poor stock management

Poor stock management

Although pesticides are toxic chemicals, they are also perishable products just like milk or vegetables. For most pesticides, the standard shelf-life is two years. After the product has exceeded its expiry date, it must be analysed to see whether is can still be used effectively. And just like milk or vegetables, pesticides stocks will go 'bad' quickly if they are not properly transported, stored and managed.

Slow distribution and rough transport

In developing countries, it can often take a very long time for pesticides to reach their final destination. The pesticides can be near or even past their expiry dates by the time they are available to the users. This is a particular problem when the pesticides supplied are not newly manufactured but have been in stock for some time prior to their dispatch.

Shipping and storage conditions of pesticides enstering a country can also affect their condition on arrival and the rate at which they deteriorate. Excessive heat and extreme temperature variations, open storage and rough handling can all contribute to accelerated deterioration of pesticides.

Problems can begin right at the point of entry for imported pesticides. It can take considerable time for customs officials to process and register pesticide shipments. During this time, storage facilities at the point of arrival may be inadequate or insufficient. This contributes to the deterioration of the pesticide formulations and the containers.

During transport, containers and other packaging materials are often handled very roughly. When metal drums are banged and battered, their inner and outer coatings can become damaged. This can lead to accelerated corrosion and leakage. Also, long periods of exposure to direct sun during transit can cause the both the container and its contents to deteriorate.

Proper care during transport is vital not just for maintaining the quality of pesticide products, but for ensuring public health as well. Pesticides should never be transported along with other products especially foods. Containers of pesticides have leaked during transport, contaminating foodstuffs such as flour and rice packed in sacks and carried in the same truck. People have eaten the food after it has arrived at its destination and have become ill or died.

Improper storage

When the pesticides reach their final destination storage facilities are often inadequate. Pesticides stored in hot, poorly ventilated buildings degrade quickly. What's worse, the buildings may not be large enough to accommodate all the pesticide stock. New products may have to be stored outside because old and possibly obsolete products are already occupying the limited space.

Pesticides stored outside will not only deteriorate more quickly, they are susceptible to vandalism and theft and pose serious health threats to the local community and the environment.

Improper storage affects not just the quality of pesticide formulations, it seriously damages the pesticide containers. Limited storage space often forces the people managing the pesticide stocks to stack metal containers. This can damage them, especially the ones on the bottom, and make it difficult to move stock and check on the condition of the product.

If pesticides are kept outside or stored in buildings with leaky roofs and without concrete floors, the drums will corrode more quickly than those stored iunder good conditions and the contents may leak. This renders the products unusable and creates a serious health and environmental hazard.

Leaks are often not cleaned up immediately because staff have not been trained in how to handle them, or because the necessary materials and equipment aren't available. As a result, one leaking container can contaminate many other products or cause more metal containers to corrode, creating a situation were the entire stock becomes unusable.

Poor stock management

To keep perishable products like pesticides from going bad, it is imperative that good stock management procedures be followed.

However, in developing countries many storekeepers are not trained proper in stock management. This involves more than learning how to handle leaks and spills. It requires those responsible for managing the stocks to follow the standard stock management practice of 'first in - first out'. Old consignments should always be finished before using newly arrived consignment. But this often does not happen. Older products are often neglected in favour of newer ones that are more heavily promoted by the distributors. Also because of poor record keeping, employees may not know which products arrived first. Limited storage space also often results in older stocks being hidden behind newly arrived products and forgotten.

In addition, staff may not be adequately informed about the pesticides themselves to manage them effectively. They may be unaware that each product has an expiry date. Even when pesticide managers are properly informed and trained, missing product labels can make stock management impossible.

Lack of analytical facilities

Pesticides may still be effective after their expiry date, but a chemical analysis must be done to know for certain. Many developing countries don't have laboratory facilities capable of carrying out such an analysis. Even when such an analysis is possible, inadequate labelling can make the process very difficult.

For this reason, there is often an understandable tendency on the part of those managing pesticide stocks to promote newer products whose effectiveness is guaranteed over older products that have exceeded their expiry date. This leads to prolonged storage of older products and reduces space available for new stocks.

Inappropriate storage of obsolete pesticides
Inappropriate storage of obsolete pesticides

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Poor Storage