Poor farming practices including misuse of pesticides can harm the health of farmers and their communities and can lead to high residues in food and that reach consumers. International trade is damaged when contaminated produce is found in consignments and importers reject the whole consignment. Pesticides are harming bees and other beneficial animals that are essential to agriculture, and pesticides in water can kill fish and other aquatic life as well as reach drinking water supplies.
East African countries must intensify their agriculture to meet growing national demands for nutritious and safe food and to increase agricultural exports. Such intensification could lead to higher use of pesticides and other agrichemicals and to over-exploitation of national resources such as water.
From 24 to 26 September 2013 representatives from 6 countries in East Africa (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) gathered in Musanze, Rwanda, to build a strategy for better pesticides management in the region. 30 participants from government agencies, farmers’ organizations and the private sector worked with experts from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Wageningen University and Research Centre, the government of the Netherlands and Sweden to identify priority actions for improved pesticide management.
A twenty one point action plan was agreed by all participants with actions ranging from better import controls to stop counterfeit and illegal pesticides from entering countries, to training farmers to protect their crops by using natural controls instead of chemicals.
The countries agreed that working together would make their actions more effective and efficient and allow better use of scarce funds, technical experts and facilities such as laboratories. The meeting called upon the East African Community and national policy makers to prioritize the pesticides management programme for action.The workshop was organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Wageningen University and Research Centre, and funded by the government of The Netherlands and the FAO in collaboration with the government of Rwanda.