Rotterdam convention promotes African Lusophone countries meeting on social and environmental impact of pesticide use

The Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention in partnership with the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) and FAO Office in Portugal promoted a meeting among African Portuguese-speaking countries under the Rotterdam Convention on the social and environmental impact of pesticide use, from 1 to 4 December 2015, at the CPLP's HQ, in Lisbon, Portugal.

The meeting aimed at initiating a dialogue between the different Parties that share similar environmental and social concerns in the context of the Rotterdam Convention and other Conventions of chemicals such as Basel and Stockholm. It was also an opportunity for the exchange and consolidation of ideas and proposals from the different countries.

Elisabetta Tagliati of the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention highlighted the important work of the three Conventions and the linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals. She also remarked that pesticides and chemicals should not threaten the well-being and health of farmers and their families as well as the environment, though highly hazardous chemicals continue to be used in many countries.

Manuel Lapão, Cooperation Director of CPLP and in charge of the Regional Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition (ESAN-CPLP) also gave a presentation on the linkage between food security, sustainable agriculture and the social and environmental impact of pesticide use, stressing the importance of fostering further synergies and partnerships.

The focal points and Designated National Authorities of Angola, Cape Verde,  São Tomé and Principe, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique gave a national overview on the status of implementation of the Rotterdam Convention, their experiences on data collection of pesticides use and on alternatives to the use of hazardous chemicals.

25 participants from the five Lusophone African countries attended this event, including representatives from Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Health and representatives of NGOs in order to build the basis for a technical network, raise awareness on the social and environmental aspects of pesticide exposure and deal with the topic in a holistic manner in order to have more harmonized technical assistance activities.

Delegates of the Lusophone countries visit the organic farm “Quinta do Arneiro”
In the framework of the technical meeting of the Rotterdam Convention, the delegates from the Lusophone countries participated at a field visit in an organic farm “Quinta do Arneiro” in partnership with AGRO-BIO (Association of Organic Agriculture of Portugal).

The “Quinta do Arneiro” has a total of 5000m2 of organic production greenhouses and, through field visits and food sales, raises community awareness on the importance of having healthy food habits and promoting the consumption of organic products.

Participants became familiar with the non-chemical alternatives to pesticides used in agricultural production through practical experience and understood the food value chain from production to distribution. Jaime Ferreira, president of AGRO-BIO explained the concepts of organic agriculture, the mission and the strategic objectives of the organization and the procedures for obtaining the organic certification. He also highlighted the importance of organic farming not only for ensuring good quality food and protecting health and the environment, but also for promoting social development.

Participants had the opportunity to learn about many organic agricultural products and the techniques used in its cultivation. The field visit was an important contribution to the discussions, analysis and exchange of experiences during the meeting. The participants had direct contact with organic farming in Portugal and the alternatives to the hazardous chemicals, significantly promoted by FAO as part of the shift towards healthy and sustainable food systems.