An Interstate Committee of Pesticides in Africa (CPAC) has been established in Central Africa to facilitate approvals of plant protection products for use across CEMAC member states. At the root of the initiative is a desire among governments in the region ‘to clean up the agricultural sector in the CEMAC area’. The Committee will ‘evaluate applications for registration and sales of plant protection products’, with applications submitted between 20 July and 30 September 2012 being subject to a ‘fast-tracked’ approval process to be completed by the end of 2012.
This is the culmination of an initiative launched in 2005 with the support of the EU-financed COLEACP PIP programme. To date this has involved:
- setting out training programmes for national experts;
- capacity building of secretariat staff and scientific experts from CPAC in registration procedures and alternatives to chemical pesticides;
- participation in workshops ‘on the use and authorisation of biopesticides and the overall problem of minor crops’.
Information on the operation of approval procedures can be found on the CPAC website at: http://www.cpac-cemac.org
The relevance of this initiative is illustrated by a recently published EC report on the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), which explains the procedure whereby an EU country that identifies a risk in food, feed or food contact materials entering its territory issues a report, or notification. The notifications are classified, according to seriousness, as:
- alert (indicating the most serious risk);
- border rejection;
- original and follow-up;
- rejected and withdrawn.
The RASFF 2011 annual report reveals that ‘almost half of the notifications related to food and feed rejected at EU borders’. Rejection of imported products generally leads to a dialogue on the corrective actions to be taken in the exporting country. If the problem persists, however, this can lead to ‘delisting establishments, blocking exports or intensifying controls’.
Establishing a uniform system of registration of plant protection products is seen as necessary within CEMAC to facilitate the development of regional agricultural production to international standards. This needs to be seen against the background of increasingly strict controls related to pesticide residues and the growing problem of fraudulent pesticides, with potentially important public health implications both for producers and consumers, and possible adverse effects on the environment (see Agritrade article ‘ Fraudulent pesticides of growing concern in the EU’, 30 January 2012).
Establishing a common regional approval procedure is more cost-effective than undertaking such action at the national level. It also lays the basis for the development of local pesticide production for the CEMAC regional market. However, in terms of dealing with fraudulent pesticides, the critical policy challenge will be monitoring and enforcement of pesticide regulations.
Scope potentially exists for an international alert system on fraudulent pesticides, warning the relevant regional authorities on the most common sources of fraudulent pesticides, so that limited enforcement capacities can be efficiently deployed.