ZIMBABWE – In an effort to enhance the protection of humans, animals, and the environment, Zimbabwe has taken significant strides toward improving its pesticide management system.
Acknowledging the crucial role pesticides play in agricultural development, the government, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), conducted a comprehensive study focused on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).
These substances, categorized as having acute or chronic hazards to health and the environment, pose potential risks despite their contribution to agricultural productivity.
A stepwise approach for HHP risk reduction
Following the FAO/WHO Guidelines on HHPs, Zimbabwe undertook a three-step approach to address the risks associated with these substances: identification, assessment, and mitigation.
The initial phase involved identifying 44 HHPs based on the eight criteria established by FAO/WHO. Subsequently, an inclusive multisectoral study was conducted in 2022, led by the Ministries responsible for Health, Agriculture, and the Environment.
This study aimed to identify additional HHPs used in Zimbabwe, assess associated risks, investigate availability and usage, and evaluate regulatory compliance among pesticide retailers in the country.
Zimbabwe’s commitment to effective pesticide management aligns with international and regional chemicals management instruments, such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), to address concerns regarding HHPs.
“This launch is one of the many activities through which FAO has shown its continued support to sustainable pesticide management in Zimbabwe, as the country thrives on adopting good practices that can be replicated and scaled up to address existing gaps and constraints,” said Professor Jiri, Chief Director – Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services Directorate in a speech read on behalf of Dr. John Basera, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.
The collaborative efforts of stakeholders across the pesticide management value chain were highlighted during the launch event in Harare, where over 100 participants convened to appreciate the study’s findings and foster synergies to promote sustainable pesticide use.
Framing the HHPs mitigation strategy
Based on the ACP-MEAs 3 HHPs thematic group findings, the launch of the strategy focused on developing a comprehensive HHPs mitigation strategy.
The strategy’s framework incorporates short-term, mid-term, and long-term interventions to reduce the human and environmental risks associated with these pesticides.
Key priorities include training and raising awareness among farmers, retailers, and stakeholders about HHPs, as well as developing alternative solutions and phase-out plans for these substances.
Strengthening enforcement and regulation of all pesticides, including HHPs, and creating a supportive legal environment for the registration of bio-pesticides were also identified as critical elements of the strategy.
Way forward; drafting and endorsing the strategy
FAO, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, will collaborate with the Government of Zimbabwe to develop a draft HHPs mitigation strategy.
This draft will be presented and refined through national consultation workshops involving all stakeholders.
Subsequently, the final strategy will undergo validation and endorsement by the government, signifying a crucial step in the country’s journey to minimize the impact of HHPs on Zimbabwe’s population and environment.
The launch of the HHPs mitigation strategy reinforces Zimbabwe’s dedication to advancing the goals of ONE HEALTH and promoting a safer and healthier environment for its citizens. By strengthening pesticide management practices and reducing the risks associated with HHPs, Zimbabwe aims to foster sustainable agricultural practices while protecting human health and the natural ecosystems that support its agricultural sector.