By Ndafadza Madanha
ZIMBABWE needs US$4m to dispose 300 metric tonnes of obsolete and Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) in stock in order to conform to the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The country is also a signatory to the Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions which prohibit the use of certain pesticides in agriculture production but some continue to be available on the local market.
About 200 000 people die worldwide due to pesticide poisoning and 84% of the victims are found in developing countries and the use of pesticides should be the last option for small holder farmers.
However, the country does not have capacity to dispose the pesticides and needs about US$5 000 a tonne to ship the pesticides to Europe for disposal.
According to FAO agriculture officer for Pesticides Risk Reduction for Southern and Eastern Africa Ivy Saunyama, the elimination of HHPs is important as they pose a threat to future generations and are harmful to the environment.
“In 2015-16 we did a survey and found that the country had 300mt of obsolete pesticides and we need about US$1.5m to get rid of them but the total figure will come up to US$4m if we are to factor in other support programs. The 300mt is not the whole quantity as it only covered part of the country.
The effects of these pesticides are Trans generational and we may not see the effects our children will definitely see them. Surprisingly while Zimbabwe and SADC are signatories to conventions banning HHPs some of them are readily available on our markets”.
In Mozambique, FAO has provided assistance to the government in 700mt of pesticides while another 400 mt of soil was rehabilitated after contamination.
Saunyama said the country should have short term phase out periods as some pesticides banned in 2014 are still on the market owing to the long phase out periods.