|SPC targets reduction of pesticide use in Agriculture|
|Wednesday, 26 March 2014 09:46|
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has organised a week-long ‘Training of Trainers’ course, from 24-28 March 2014 at Koronivia Research Station, Fiji to discuss major safety issues dealing with pesticides.
According to SPC’s Integrated Pest Management Officer, Mr Fereti Atumurirava, food safety is a component of food security. It is therefore, wise not only to be food secured but to ensure that food is safe for human consumption and the environment during the process of food production.
‘Food safety has been of great concern in developing countries like Fiji and the rest of the Pacific region due to indiscriminate use of pesticides in our food production processes.’
‘Pesticides are poisons designed to kill and eliminate pests and diseases as the ultimate aim to ensure crop harvests are of supreme quality. They are also designed to fetch high economic returns, in terms of feeding capacity and financial gain with little attention and knowledge of their adverse effects,’ said Atumurirava.
He added that pesticides can cause short-term adverse health impacts, called acute effects, as well as cause chronic adverse impacts that can occur months or years after exposure. ‘Acute health effects include stinging eyes, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhoea and death.’
‘Accurate statistics on the health effects of pesticides are not available but estimates range from 1 to 41 million people affected every year, affecting disproportionately children and infants,’ he said.
This training therefore, aims to support the reduction of pesticide use in Pacific agriculture and, as demonstrated today and in the next three days, will be a refresher ‘Training of Trainers’ workshop on the application of integrated pest management (IPM) tools. This will equip participants in preparation for the farmer field schools which will follow after the workshop at their respective localities.
The IPM training is on the Brassica crops, such as English and Chinese cabbages, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, etc. where a number of insecticides are being used to control insect pests and diseases more than any other crop.
To this end, this training is targeted at agricultural practices that protect people and the environment and do not rely on toxic pesticides. Diverse and healthy agricultural ecosystems, free of toxic chemicals, have a proven record of providing nutritious food and a safe environment.
Atumurirava added that such workshops are targeted to boost confidence and build capacity amongst the participants to enable them to conduct Farmer Field School sessions at their respective localities on the IPM concept and help reduce the use of pesticide in brassica production.
A total of 14 participants are currently attending the weeklong training that was officially opened by Ms Mereia Fong of Fiji’s Ministry of Primary Industry.