Reducing risks of pesticides in Cameroon - FAO supports institutions to improve evaluation and regulation of pesticides

Fourteen staff of the pesticide registration authorities of Cameroon including two members of the Interstate Committee of Pesticides in Central Africa gathered in the city of Edea in Cameroon in December 2017 to participate in a training on the FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit. The FAO toolkit is designed to assist pesticide registrars from developing countries in the day-to-day pesticide registration tasks, including risk assessment. It facilitates finding data requirements, evaluating human and environmental risks, and determining risk mitigation measures. The training was organised by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Cameroon under the project Disposal of existing POPs and other obsolete pesticides and implementation of a sound pest and pesticide management in Cameroon funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

The participants included staff of the Cameroon National Commission in charge of Pesticide Registration and Certification of Treatment Equipment (CNHPCAT), staff of the Department of Regulation and Quality Control of Agricultural  Products and Inputs (DRCQ) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and staff of the Interstate Committee of Pesticides in Central Africa (CPAC). The key role of these organisations is to ensure that pesticides authorised for use in Cameroon and in the region do not pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. But evaluation and registration of pesticides is complex in countries facing limited resources.

 The technical capacity to evaluate pesticide dossiers by the CNHPCAT is insufficient- says Alice Siben Ndikontar, the FAO National Project Coordinator also participating in the training on the toolkit.

“The decisions on registration of pesticides in Cameroon are based on the registration dossier supplied by pesticide companies but the dossier does not contain enough information suited for assessing pesticides in Cameroon. While the data on how effective a pesticide is in killing a pest is from locally conducted trials, all data on the pesticide risks to human health and the environment are not based on local conditions of use. There is limited national capacity and ability to assess the pesticide risk on human health and the environment based on national data. It is also not possible at the moment to set maximum residue limits for pesticide in commodities based on the specific risk assessment for Cameroon, though it would be important to do so”.

Prior to her assignment with FAO, Alice worked in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as Senior Plant Health Officer, participating in pesticide registration. As such she is aware of the gaps and needs to make pesticide registration stronger in Cameroon, the objective of the training.

“The FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit makes it easier to evaluate the pesticide registration dossier while considering all elements to be taken into account to decide on registration, such as pesticide efficacy, human health and environmental risks, as well as having access to relevant information sources including registration status in other countries, scientific reviews and hazard classifications. The toolkit is web-based, intended for day to day use and feasible with limited resources.”


Improving registration decisions is key to prevent negative impacts of pesticides

In low and middle income countries it is common that pesticide users cannot adhere to label requirements that are essential to prevent poisoning, high pesticides residues in food and environmental pollution. Therefore sound evaluation and registration decisions should consider real use conditions.

Alice explains that pesticide misuse and negative impacts are occurring and well documented in Cameroon. She notes that the absence of personal protective equipment plays a key role in the extent of body exposure of farmers in Cameroon. A recent study from 2014 found that the majority of tomato farmers interviewed in Buea, south-west region, reported at least one symptom of acute pesticide toxicity after pesticide handling. In another study that Alice conducted in 2016 with other colleagues in the frame of the Rotterdam Convention, 56 cases of pesticide poisonings and intoxications were reported between 2011 and 2016 in the health centres representing the most important agricultural production areas of Cameroon, though pesticide health impacts are not usually reported to health centres. Also, empty pesticide containers are reused for domestic purposes across the country, thus exposing users, including children to poisoning from pesticide residues.

Visible pesticide residues on tomatoes just harvested and ready for the market of the south region of Cameroon

Additionally, a study on the misuse of pesticides in the north region of Cameroon found that over-dosage of pesticides by farmers results in high pesticides residues in commodities, especially in most market gardening crops, but also in some field crops. The misuse of pesticides in the north region revealed that organochlorine and organophosphorus residues, synthetic pyrethroids and carbamates are found in maize and millet in certain localities of that region at levels higher than the recommended Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) – the food safety thresholds with regards to pesticide residues in the FAO Codex Alimentarius. With respect to environmental impacts, Alice adds that many farmers have been reported dispose of pesticide containers and wash their sprayer in the surrounding land or even in the nearby rivers.

The FAO- GEF project team takes soil samples to evaluate pollution in the contaminated site of the phytosanitary base of the West region of Bafoussam.

The FAO -GEF project is active to reduce overall pesticide risks

In addition to improving pesticide regulation to prevent or reduce such negative impacts, the FAO- GEF project helps address other issues related to pesticide mismanagement such as remediating pesticide contaminated sites, addressing empty pesticide  containers as well as promoting alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) in the context of Integrated Pest Management.

In particular, with respect to contaminated sites, the project trained a national team of government-nominated technicians (15) and investigated12 sites throughout the country. Six priority sites representing the greatest risk to health and environment were identified, and remediation plans are under development for two high priority sites, namely in Dschang at the Cameroon Center for Rehabilitation, Training, and Social Integration of the Blind in the west region of Cameroon and in Lagdo, a pesticide storage site in the North.

Also as part of the GEF project, the capacity of the technical staff of the National Pesticide Analysis Laboratory and some collaborating laboratories has been strengthened on quality management, business planning and pesticide residue analysis. Other ongoing activities include the review of the existing phytosanitary law with particular attention to the aspects of pesticides, the evaluation of HHPs, the promotion of alternatives to HHPs and strengthening post registration surveillance, import inspection and control of pesticide related activities within the country.

For more information:

·         FAO pesticide Registration Toolkit :

o    FAO Registration Toolkit link

o    You tube video introduction to the FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit

·         Impacts of pesticides use in Cameroon :

o    Pouokam, G.B.; Lemnyuy Album, W.; Ndikontar, A.S.; SIDATT, M.E.H. A Pilot Study in Cameroon to Understand Safe Uses of Pesticides in Agriculture, Risk Factors for Farmers’ Exposure and Management of Accidental Cases. Toxics 2017, 5, 30.

·         Contacts :

  • Alice Ndikontar, National Project Coordinator, FAO Cameroon:  [email protected]

  • Livia Loy Donà, Pesticide Risk Reduction (surveys) and Communication, FAO Rome:  [email protected]



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