National Environment Agency (NEA), in collaboration with the Food and
Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO) recently convened a
stakeholders’ workshop on monitoring of Severely Hazardous Pesticides
Formulations (SHPFs) in The Gambia.
The workshop was part of FAO’s global project of strengthening capacities to monitor and report severely hazardous pesticide formulation.
The main objective was to assist parties in their efforts to meet their obligation in the implementation of the Rotterndam Convention and to specially strengthen capacities to monitor and report on SHPF.
The monitoring survey would target Upper River Region, North Bank Region and West Coast Region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony held at the Baobab Resort in Bijilo, the FAO country representative, Madam Kalala, said the initiative could not have come at a better time than now when The Gambia is putting lots of efforts towards resilience building against the impacts of climate change and variability amongst its increasing population, through the promotion of increased agricultural production and productivity for food security, improved nutrition and poverty alleviation, amongst others.
She said, according to the Rotterdam Convention, there has been increasing growth in chemical production and trade during the past three decades raising both public and official concerns about the potential risks posed by hazardous chemicals and pesticides.
According to her, this becomes more alarming for vulnerable countries that lack adequate infrastructure to monitor the import and use of these chemicals.
She said SHPFs may pose significant risks to human health or the environment, because risk reduction measures, such as the use of personal protective equipment or maintenance and calibration of pesticide application equipment are not easily implemented or are not effective.
Madam Kalala further said that recognising these constraints and the fact that pesticide risk reduction is one of the priority areas in FAO’s pesticide management programme; FAO has signed an agreement with the National Environment Agency (NEA) for the monitoring of severely hazardous pesticide formulations.
The proposed activities in this project would support The Gambia in improving capacities for the collection of information on SHPFs, she said.
It would also help to identify and raise awareness of particularly hazardous pesticides and practices, in order to strengthen community responses and regulatory decisions with respect to the reduction of risk from SHPFs, she stated.
For his part, the acting Director of National and Environment Agency, Mohammed Jamal Suwareh, said the Rotterdam Convention on prior informed consent was adapted in 1998 and it entered into force in 2004.
He explained that the objective of the convention was meant to foster a shared responsibility to protect human health and environment.
According to him, The Gambia Government, in partnership with development partners, such as EU,GEF and FAO have implemented and continued to implement important projects, all geared towards sound chemical management.
The Gambia, he said, has recognised the need and over the years taken steps towards the development of an institutional framework for sound chemical management.
“The Gambia is a typical agricultural country with 70% of the workforce engaged in the agricultural sector with farmers depending heavily on the use of these pesticides,” he said.
He said during the use of these pesticides most farmers do not observe preventive measures, and are therefore exposed to health risks; hence the need to monitor the health and environmental impacts of these pesticides.
He disclosed that The Gambia is one of the few countries in the sub-region that benefited from the grant of a pilot project, which aimed at building capacity across the country, identifying and raising awareness of particularly hazardous pesticide and practice, in order to strengthen community responses and regulatory decision with respect to the reduction of risk from SHPFs.