Manejo integrado de plagas y plaguicidas

Zimbabwe: first "hybrid" Pesticides Registration Toolkit training workshop held after two years of COVID-19 restrictions


The trained officials join over 400 people from more than 70 countries that FAO has taught to navigate the Toolkit and use it effectively since it first went online, in 2016.

For two years, COVID-19 prevented the Pesticide Registration Toolkit training workshop from taking place. Now with travel gradually opening up, hybrid workshops are being arranged with participants attending in person and facilitators joining in virtually.  Zimbabwe recently broke the lull, holding its first such workshop on 14-18 February 2022 in Mutare. The session brought together 20 government officials responsible for pesticide regulation and management from the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, and Health face-to-face with one facilitator Ms Ivy Saunyama, a Toolkit trainer. In addition, three Toolkit trainers from the FAO Plant Production and Protection Division, participated virtually. 

In his opening remarks Mr Patrice Talla, the FAO Sub Regional Officer for Southern Africa, said that the Pesticides Registration Toolkit is a crucial resource that provides guidelines and strengthens regulatory control over life cycle management of pesticides, which is critical for minimizing risks to health and the environment. He applauded the European Union (EU) for funding this training workshop as well as other global projects, such as the "IOMC Toolbox for decision making in chemicals management - Phase III: From design to action" and the  Capacity Building Programme for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that participate in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (ACP MEAs 3). He noted that the two projects demonstrate the EU's commitment to fostering sound pesticide management in Zimbabwe. He further commented on the IOMC Toolbox project, particularly the Pesticide Registration Toolkit training, as an initiative that operationalizes the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 and supports the 2030 Agenda. Such initiatives provide Zimbabwe with the necessary transformational framework to implement more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.

Mr Talla highlighted the fact that countries are under pressure to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and improving pesticides management is critical to achieving the SDGs related to ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring that all people can enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Mr Dumisani Kutwyayo , the Chief Director of the Department of Agricultural Research and Development Directorate, echoed this by lamenting the ongoing use of highly hazardous pesticides without regard to the environment and human safety as a critical limitation to attaining national development goals. Both speakers agreed on the need to adopt more ecosystem-based and sustainable agricultural production approaches that reduce reliance on harmful pesticides. 

Mr Baogen Gu, the Pesticide Management Team Leader, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO Rome, underscored that pesticides are toxic chemicals that need rigorous evaluation before being used under local conditions. However, all speakers lamented the challenges hampering pesticide registrars from playing their role of gatekeepers and of controlling and authorizing the sound use of pesticides. Insufficient staff, limited technical expertise, inadequate registration schemes, lack of assessment methods and limited access to information were cited as critical challenges. 

Mr Kutwyayo recommended promoting sustainable production systems as one of the pillars of mitigation measures that allow for an effective pesticide registration system that avoids the use of highly hazardous pesticides. Mr Talla concluded by saying, "An efficiently regulated and managed pesticide registration scheme is a prerequisite for ensuring that pesticides used in the country effectively control pests."  

The participants lauded the Toolkit training and discussed how they would use it in their day-to-day work. They added that they eagerly anticipate updates to the Toolkit, especially the modules on biopesticides.