Nadi, Fiji – Twelve Pacific Island countries supported by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) have established a Pesticide Regulatory Forum which will serve as the primary platform for the harmonisation of pesticide registration and use in the Pacific.
The forum will function as a technical support mechanism, to inform national decision making on pesticide registration.
This follows a Regional Workshop on the Harmonisation of Pesticide Registration in the Pacific Islands which took place in Nadi this week (8-12 May). The workshop was attended by public sector representation from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
According to SPC Director Land Resources Division, Jan Helsen, “Pesticide use in agricultural production is inevitable. The green revolution, which focusses on food and income security in the region has not effectively highlighted the adverse impacts of pesticides on human health. There is sufficient evidence to support the dangers of poorly managed pesticide use, let alone the use of adulterated pesticides which then raises the question of responsibility for minimising threats to human health and the environment.”
“Strong working relationships and technical partnerships between agencies like FAO, SPC and its member countries are critical to share knowledge and best practices through mutual cooperation and having common understanding of, and insights into the use of pesticides,” Mr Helsen said.
The workshop was a coordinated effort between member countries, FAO and SPC in order to follow up on outcomes of the Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides Registration in the Pacific Islands workshop, which was held in 2015, during which national pesticide registrars established a working group to develop the Pacific Regional Registration Scheme (PRPRS) which was endorsed in May 2015.
The PRPRS aims to strengthen capacity in Pacific countries to make informed decisions on pesticide registration while also pooling available expertise on pesticides to support information exchange amongst member countries and inform decision makers on influencing stakeholders on the registration of high-quality pesticide products and advise on the possible reduction of pesticide risks for human health and the environment.
During the workshop, participants agreed on the application and operation of the Pesticide Registration Toolkit developed by UN FAO, to facilitate effective implementation of the PRPRS.
Reiterating the significance of harmonised pesticides registration, Dr Viliami Fakava of UN FAO stated, “The importance of regional support mechanisms and regional cooperation in the Pacific islands cannot be over-stated. FAO fully supports the establishment of a regionally harmonised system that Pacific Island countries have committed to. Good risk assessment and sound pesticide registration systems are absolutely necessary in building resilience and in securing sustainable livelihoods for our communities.”
The pesticides working group has developed a proposal for the PRPRS as a mechanism to provide technical support to assist national authorities with pesticides registration decisions (strengthening pesticide legislation and policies), and a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) based on the agreed structure and design of the regional scheme with the anticipation of a likely transition to a binding regional agreement or treaty, with SPC as the proposed depositary.
A draft paper on the PRPRS and associated MoU has been prepared for endorsement by Pacific Ministers of Agriculture later this year at the Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries Meeting (MOAFs).