AGP - News

FAO paves the way towards mainstreaming ecosystems services and biodiversity into agriculture

25-26 May 2016, NairobiBiodiversity and ecosystem services are at the heart of many solutions to sustainable increase in agricultural productivity.  They not only deliver better outcomes for food and nutrition security but also reduce negative environmental externalities of production.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) organized a regional policy dialogue on the role of ecosystem services and biodiversity in agricultural production.  This came close to the heels of this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May) and within the context of the United Nation’s Environment Assembly in Nairobi (23-27 May) whose overarching theme was  Delivering on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The event – organized under the EU-funded project “Capacity Building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries Phase 2 (ACP/MEAs 2)” and the FAO Programme on “Incentives for Ecosystem Services in agriculture (IES) ” - brought together some sixty key national and regional stakeholders, including representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Pest Control Products Board, Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization, non-governmental organizations and research institutions. 

The meeting was officially opened by Robert Allport, FAO Kenya’s acting Representative. He emphasized the relevance of the meeting towards achieving a sustainable approach to agriculture, “ that recognizes and rewards the vital role that other elements of the ecosystem – from broad water catchments to pollinators and earth worms – provide to both local agricultural systems and to other sectors of society, through reduced soil erosion, clean water, biodiversity protection and carbon sequestration.”

Ecosystem based solutions that benefit production and beyond

Approaches that can address both the negative externalities of conventional production systems and assist resource-poor farmers in overcoming sustainability challenges have a central common thread: they recognize that agriculture and food systems are biological and social systems. They can be designed to build upon and harness the forces of biodiversity and ecosystem services to underpin sustainable agricultural production - soil fertility, natural pest and weed control, pollination, water retention – so that these are optimized and encouraged.

The Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Dr. Braulio Dias pointed out the need to build agricultural landscapes and food systems able to face, and to be more resilient to increasingly frequent extreme weather events.  He highlighted that a key strategy that should be promoted to achieve this goal is sustainable ecological intensification of agriculture, which includes reduced reliance on agrochemicals for increasing and improving yields, and instead, reliance on ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Supporting the integration of agricultural issues in the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs)

The two-day workshop revolved around a newly released technical guidance document by FAO and the CBD which aims to mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services into country National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), towards achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The document has been prepared as part of FAO’s Major Area of Work on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity (MAW-ESB), whose goal is to demonstrate the importance of Integrated Landscape Management in the protection and enhancement of ecosystem and biodiversity for Sustainable Food and Agriculture.

The guidance document provides insights on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and their relevance to agriculture. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets  are form the core of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 as an overarching framework on biodiversity for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development. The guidance document comprises seven technical papers from leading experts on managing ecosystem services and biodiversity to reduce the use of agrochemicals, focusing on natural pest control; water; soil; pollination; indigenous knowledge; crop-livestock integration and weed management. The document also includes a section on policy measures, from Kenya and other regions of the world, that offer examples of entry points for harnessing synergies between sound chemical management and biodiversity conservation.

The identification of key contributions of ecosystem services and biodiversity to Kenya’s agricultural sector was instrumental in the deliberations held.  Kenya’s NBSAP revision is scheduled to start later in 2016.  Recommendations towards mainstreaming an ecosystem-based approach to the country’s agriculture were gathered during the meeting.  Other examples of initiatives that assist farmers in overcoming adoption barriers to best practices, by linking them with public and private initiatives were also shared. Case studies from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda showed examples of collaboration between research, environment, agriculture development and private sector companies. These examples of Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) from agriculture reveal that there are abundant resources available to offer farmers an integrated support package, capable of supporting a lasting transition to sustainable agriculture.

In a bid to improve coherence in these investments, an ecosystem services and biodiversity mainstreaming task-force was assembled from the Kenyan participating institutions. FAO Kenya will reconvene the task-force in the coming weeks to further define the work plan and joint fund-raising priorities that will enable them to better bridge the gaps between environment, food security and better rural livelihoods.

Related Links:

FAO Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity portal:


Livia Loy Donà, Operations and Communications Consultant (AGPM)


Ruth Njeng’ere – Communications Officer





Road mapping pesticide risk reduction for the Pacific region

12 August 2014, Rarotonga, Cook Islands - Mrs Topou Heather, family farmer, produces various vegetables and fruits for market.

In the Pacific Island countries and territories, the consequences of the rising use of chemical pesticides, including but not limited to misuse, are a threat to the health of both humans and ecosystems. Adverse impacts range from contamination of the natural resources to increased incidence of pesticide poisoning cases. Of particular concern is the use of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), and the overall poor management of pesticide products from their point of entry into the country, through to their use, and until their end of life

For reducing such risks, key stakeholders from 12 Pacific Island countries and territories (Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea) gathered in Suva, Fiji from the 10 to 12 September 2014 for an inception workshop.

The objective of the workshop was to foster the integration between the agriculture and biodiversity sectors to strengthen capacity for the sustainable intensification of crop production.

The workshop led to the development of an action plan to address the following regional priorities: 

  • The harmonization of national pesticides legislation and registration systems
  • The piloting of a pesticides container management scheme;
  • The development of trainings and training materials on Integrated Pest Management (IPM), organic agriculture and ecosystem and biodiversity management;
  • The integration of agriculture into National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and addressing Aichi Targets 7, 13 and 14
  • The awareness raising and public education on pesticide risk reduction
  • The ratification and implementation of the Rotterdam Convention

To facilitate communication and information sharing among pesticides regulators the workshop participants agreed to the set up of a Pacific Pesticide Management Committee.

Additionally, one workshop day was dedicated to the Rotterdam Convention. It provided an opportunity for all participants (countries that have ratified the Convention as well as those that have not) to share their experiences for complying, ratifying and implementing the Convention whilst setting the stage for further collaboration.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), which hosted the event, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment (SPREP), expressed their commitment in the work ahead to assist the Pacific Community in improving human and environmental health. 

The FAO-led workshop was supported by the EU funded programme “Capacity building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in ACP Countries - Phase II" (MEAs Phase II),  the objective of which is to support and strengthen institutional and national capacity-building for the synergistic implementation of the target MEA clusters.

MEAs are the international treaties and conventions on the environment. They address environmental issues of global concern in such areas as climate change, biological diversity, sound management of harmful chemicals and hazardous wastes, and coastal and marine environment among others. They include binding instruments as the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as voluntary instruments as the FAO/WHO International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) among others, providing a sound framework for pesticides and biodiversity management.

10 September 2014, Suva, Fiji – Workshop participants at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)



FAO helps reduce risks from pesticides in the Caribbean

17 June, Bridgetown - From 10-14 June, national delegates from 15 Caribbean countries attended the 18th Meeting of the Coordinating Group for Pesticide Control Boards of the Caribbean (CGPC) in Trinidad and Tobago, to decide on action to reduce risks from pesticides. 

At the Opening Ceremony, Head of the Insect Vector Control Division in the Ministry of Health of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Clyde Teeluckdharry, said “We need to balance the risks to humans, plants, animals and the environment posed by the presence of pesticides and toxic chemicals against the benefits to society, and this can only be achieved primarily through the development of a robust legislative framework and public education.”  

The CGPC meeting endorsed a 4-year work plan that FAO experts will help facilitate. The plan covers setting up regional schemes to evaluate and register pesticides and share information among countries; assistance to farmers to find the safest methods for controlling pests and diseases in their crops; helping countries to deal with empty pesticide containers; and training for medical professionals to recognize and treat cases of pesticide poisoning.

With financial support from the European Union (EU), FAO has been helping Caribbean countries to address priorities in pest and pesticide management including the safe disposal of obsolete pesticide stocks that have lingered in the region for up to 30 years; finding the safest methods for controlling pests in agriculture and homes; reducing risks from pesticides to the environment and the health of both local populations and tourists; and communicating with farmers, politicians and the general public about pesticide dangers and the positive actions that can be taken.

So far, with FAO support, Caribbean countries have located nearly 300 tons of obsolete pesticides that include some of the most dangerous chemicals that have been banned internationally such as dieldrin and heptachlor. This information is being used to plan a clean sweep of the region in order to safely dispose of all existing obsolete pesticides at an estimated cost of US$ 2 million.

Overall, FAO is hoping to mobilize about US$ 8 million to support this work over the course of the programme which started in 2009 and will continue until 2017.

For more information:

Vyjayanthi Lopez: Plant Production and Protection Officer, FAO Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, Barbados

Mark Davis: Senior Officer-Pesticides Management, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy



The 2012 Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR)

The annual Joint Meeting of the FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticide Residues in Food and the Environment and the WHO Core Assessment Group on Pesticide Residues was held in Rome, Italy, from 11 to 20 September 2012. The FAO Panel of Experts had met in Preparatory Sessions from 6 to 10 September 2012.

The Meeting evaluated 31 pesticides, of which 7 were new compounds, and 7 were re-evaluated within the periodic review programme of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR). The Meeting established acceptable daily intakes (ADIs) and acute reference doses (ARfDs).

The Meeting estimated maximum residue levels, which it recommended for use as maximum residue limits (MRLs) by the CCPR. It also estimated supervised trials median residue (STMR) and highest residue (HR) levels as a basis for estimation of the dietary intake of residues of the pesticides reviewed. Application of HR levels is explained in Chapter 7 (7.3.) of the FAO Manual on the submission and evaluation of pesticide residue data for the estimation of MRLs in food and feed (2009). The 2012 JMPR Report is available at the FAO website: click here to access the JMPR webpage for downloading the 2012 JMPR Report.



Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management

The 5th FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management (JMPM) and 7th Session of the FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticide Management was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome, from 11 to 14 October 2011.

The FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticide Management is the official statutory body that advises FAO on matters pertaining to pesticide regulation and management, and alerts it to new developments, problems or issues that otherwise merit attention. The Panel in particular counsels FAO on the implementation of the revised version of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. Members of the WHO Panel of Experts are drawn from the WHO Panel of Experts on Vector Biology and Control, or are academic or government experts invited to advise WHO on policies, guidelines and key actions to support Member States on sound management of pesticides.

Click here to download the JMPM Report.



Globally, fruit flies (Diptera, Tephritidae) are one of the most agriculturally important families of insects. About 70 species of fruit flies are considered important agricultural pests, causing very high losses every year. Fruit flies attack fruits of many important crops, including for example citrus, mango, apples, peaches, apricots as well as some vegetables (especially Cucurbitaceae), seed crops and also many wild plants. The major fruit fly genera present in Near East countries are Ceratitis, Bactrocera, Dacus and Rhagoletis....[more]

Training manual on evaluation of pesticide residues data for the estimation of MRLs in food and feed

The trial edition of FAO training manual on evaluation of pesticide residues data for the estimation of MRLs in food and feed has been developed and is available at the FAO website.

The contents of the Training Manual reflect the sections of a typical residue evaluation, including pesticide identity and properties, metabolism, supervised residue trials, food processing and consumer exposure to residues.

The Training Manual chapters include specify the purpose  of the particular step in the evaluation process; make reference to the relevant chapters and sections of the FAO Manual; explain the process with practical examples illustrating the usual procedure and give examples for ‘difficult’ cases which require special consideration. Case studies are designed for exercises by the participants of training programs under the guidance of the trainers.

Click here to access the webpage for download of the Training Manual.


Regional Training workshops on pesticide residue risk assessment and Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) setting in Brazil and Ghana

In collaboration with the Foreign Agricultural Service, United States Department of Agriculture, AGPMC held two regional training workshops on pesticide residue risk assessment and standard setting in Brazil and Ghana. 

The workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in San Paulo, Brazil, from 16 to 20 May 2011. Twenty-one participants from twelve countries attended this training workshop. Participants came from Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.

The training for the Africa region was held in Accra, Ghana, from 6 to 10 June 2011, and twenty-two participants attended it. Participants came from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. [more]


Pesticide Problem solved in Paraguay

In Paraguay a fire that took place in a site owned by the Oficina Fiscalizadora de Algodón y Tabaco  (OFAT) in the city of Asunción in 2003 resulted in about 160 tonnes of damaged pesticides, contaminated soil and other contaminated materials being placed in hastily procured shipping containers where they have remained since.

The site is close to the centre of Asunción, the capital of Paraguay and next to the site is a neighbourhood, a busy road and a river, so that health and environmental risks are extremely high. The Government of Japan agreed to allow income generated from agricultural equipment and inputs donated by Japan and sold locally to be used for the disposal of the obsolete pesticides from OFAT Asunción.  [more]


Update version of The Manual on development and use of FAO and WHO specifications for pesticides

The Manual on the development and use of FAO and WHO specifications for pesticide has been recently revised.

The new revision (2010) has taken into account points reported by the 2006 and 2009 Open and Closed Meetings of the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Specifications (JMPS) and points suggested by the JMPS members, CIPAC and the industry.  The amendments introduced in the 2010 revised Manual are highlighted and the revision is dated

The new Manual is available only at the FAO and WHO websites. Click here to access the webpage for download the revised Manual.


Training workshop on the establishment of MRLs held in Budapest

The first FAO Training Workshop on the establishment of Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) and risk assessment of pesticide residue took place in Budapest, Hungary, from 8 to 12 November 2010. Fifteen trainees participated in the workshop, thirteen of them coming from developing countries. The workshop was opened by the FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, ... [more]


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