Communiqué - Continental Workshop on Harmonization of Pesticide Regulations in Africa

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© 2016 AU-IBAR. Continental Workshop on Harmonization of Pesticide Regulations in Africa 19th April, 2016, Cairo – Arab Republic of Egypt.© 2016 AU-IBAR. Continental Workshop on Harmonization of Pesticide Regulations in Africa 19th April, 2016, Cairo – Arab Republic of Egypt.19th April, 2016 – Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt

Background and Workshop Context

Promoted by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) pesticide use will grow in Africa over the next few years as one of the most efficient means to eliminate pests and improve crop production and productivity. Auxiliary uses of pesticides and other agro-chemicals will also grow such as use in apiculture.

There is a legitimate need for pesticides and government equity in their promotion since Africa is reliant on raw material production which forms much of the tradeable products that are key export revenue earners. However, the use of pesticides will remain highly contested with the debate centered on the possible benefits versus the potential impact on human health, non-target insects and the environment.

Although Africa still has low levels of use, many of the problems are related to poor regulation and enforcement with rampant use of illegal and banned substances, low research and development, poor utilization and management by users and poor monitoring of residue levels and other impacts. While governance of pesticide regulation has improved over the last decades, there is yet varied capability among African countries and a pervading ignorance among both users and the general populace of the potential negative effects of poor handling and use.

AU-IAPSC under its African Union mandate as the continental plant protection organization initiated a process to harmonize pesticide regulation in Africa. The process commenced in 2009 with a survey on the legal and institutional frameworks for plant protection and the use of chemicals in selected pilot countries of the continent. This was followed by a number of consultative processes which cumulated in the writing of the first draft in June 2012 in Alexandria, Egypt which was thereafter reviewed by at an Expert Meeting in July 2012, and finalized in October 2013 in Tunis, Tunisia in preparation for the final phase of continental validation.

AU-IBAR under its African Union mandate to provide leadership in the development of animal resources in Africa, is implementing a continental project on honeybee health, in conjunction with the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). At various important meetings of the Project including the 1st Continental Symposium on Bee Health, Honey Production and Pollination Services held in September 2015, the Inaugural General Assembly of Africa Apiculture Platform (AAP) held in Nov 2015, and at the first meeting of the AAP Working Groups in December 2015, the lack of adequate and harmonized policy, legal and regulatory frameworks for pesticide management was identified as a critical issue. This gap undermines efforts to reduce the impact of pesticides on the health and sustainability of bee populations. The presence of high levels of pesticide and other agro-chemical residues in honey and other hives products is a threat to consumer health, the environment and a deterrent to trade.

Workshop Goal and Objectives

In the context of realizing the transformational potential of increased production and intra-Africa trade, which are core priorities of the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Growth and Transformation, it was deemed urgent to harmonize the processes used to regulate pest control products.

The Continental Workshop on Harmonization of Pesticide Regulations in Africa was held in Cairo Egypt from 17th-19th April 2016 attended by 87 participants for forty Member States. The Workshop was organized and jointly co-hosted by the Animal Production Unit of the African Union Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the African Union Inter-African Phytosanitary Council (IAPSC), and financed by the European Union (EU).

The aim of harmonization was to promote sound policies, regulations and enforcement mechanisms continent wide including efficient, effective and safe use of pesticides, safeguarding the health of beneficial insects in particular honey bees, protecting consumers and the environment.

Given the advanced stage that IAPSC had reached in the process of developing a harmonized framework for pesticide regulation in Africa, it was therefore opportune that the validation process amalgamated the concerns and needs of the crop, apiculture and environment sector actors.

The Workshop therefore provided a platform for knowledge and experience sharing sessions that enhanced understanding of the critical underlying issues.

A multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach resulted in a more rigorous validation of the draft framework for the harmonization of pesticide regulations in Africa, highlighting areas of common interest, synergy and complementarity and underscoring need for greater responsibility by all actors.

The workshop also provided an opportunity for multi-sectoral dialogue and consultation on the development of guidelines to minimize the impact of pesticides on honeybees.

The key outputs of the Workshop were:

A call for the recognition of the great untapped potential of the ecosystem pollination services from honeybees in Africa that can contribute to changing productivity and production, and enhancing nutrition outcomes on the continent. These pollination services should be elevated to an essential input for agricultural development of equal importance to water, quality seed, pesticide and fertilizer with the necessary policy, legislative, and regulatory frameworks, and commensurate investment and institutional support.

A call for commitment to protection of honeybees and other beneficial insects in the production, distribution and utilization of pesticides given the importance of honeybees for both pollination and for production of honey and other bee hive products.

The validated framework on harmonization of pesticide regulations in Africa. The multi-sectoral/ multi-disciplinary approach engendered a sense that the process was consultative, and that there was a genuine effort to examine and address diverse issues and concerns of all the actors/interested party. There was therefore a general appreciation of the draft harmonization document with greater ownership across sectors, and agreement that with other than a few technical inputs, such as the review of the title, and the need for professional editing, the document made adequate provisions to guide the harmonization of pesticide regulation on the continent.

Draft Guidelines to Minimize the Potential Impact of Pesticides on Pollinators in Africa were developed following deliberations by stakeholders. The Guideline document includes a synopsis of the exposure of pollinators, especially bees to pesticides; challenges for the health of pollinators in relation to the use of crop protection products; key policy considerations that must be taken cognizance of, and proposed guidelines.

A call for adoption of the framework and guidelines and for the establishment of implementation and enforcement mechanisms: All Member States and Regional Economic Communities are called upon to adopt the harmonization framework and the guidelines, and to put in place mechanisms for implementation, enforcement and monitoring, and for education, training and awareness raising.

A call for joint efforts across sectors/disciplines and inclusivity in policy and decisions making processes: there is an urgent need to work outside technical/disciplinary silos and to adapt ways of working that reflect both the realities and challenges on the ground. Article 14 of the AU Constitutive Act provides for the establishment of Specialized Technical Committees (STCs) across a range of thematic areas with the purpose of establishing clusters of ministries that cover interrelated issues so as to foster greater policy coherence and harmonization.

A call for Africa to examine and review standards and procedures for honey and other hive products that are limiting trade regionally and globally. Africa needs greater ownership and participation in global standard setting forums and to explore and research options for relevant and implementable approaches that will enhance intra and inter-regional.

A call for investment in a robust scientific research and development program linked to documentation of indigenous and local knowledge systems that have evolved from a long tradition of beekeeping is needed to engender a better understanding of African honeybees as an evidence bases to shape regulations that better protect honeybee populations.