CABI contributes to US $37 million FARM programme aimed at reducing pesticides and plastics in agriculture

22 March 2024, Africa: CABI is contributing to the US $37million Financing Agrochemical Reduction and Management (FARM) programme aimed at reducing the use of pesticides and plastics in agricultural production.

CABI is a co-financing partner of the FARM programme and will share its expertise in the research, development, and implementation of more sustainable and safer-to-use biological control agents to fight devastating crop pests and diseases.

Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, Executive Director, Global Operations, chaired a discussion, on shifting policy and enforcement parameters towards reducing agricultural chemical and plastics, at a Global Child Project Inception Meeting of the FARM programme held at the United Nation’s office in Nairobi, Kenya.

Colleagues from CABI’s regional centre for Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, and its Swiss centre, also attended the event. They included Dr Morris Akiri, Senior Regional Director, Africa, Dr Willis Ochilo, Dr MaryLucy Oronje, Dr Melanie Bateman and Dr Robert Malek.

Eliminating the use of the most harmful inputs

FARM, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and with US $304 million in co-financing, seeks to catalyse a framework for regulatory and financial investment in the agricultural sector to detoxify the sector by eliminating the use of the most harmful inputs – such as highly hazardous pesticides – to food production systems.

It is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and implemented by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

In the first phase, the programme is being carried out in relevant country institutions in Ecuador, India, Kenya, Lao PDR, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam, with leadership from the relevant national institutions. In subsequent stages, it will be scaled out to additional countries.

The Global Child Project, meanwhile, is executed by the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP). This facilitates the generation and compilation of knowledge from the FARM programme and share that knowledge with international and national audiences to replicate, scale and amplify results and solutions.

It will also coordinate activities across the FARM programme and provide a mechanism by which other FARM child projects can engage with international and regional stakeholders.

Sustainable management of pesticides and agricultural plastics

The roundtable talks chaired by Dr Kuhlmann on “Shifting policy and enforcement parameters towards reducing agricultural chemicals and plastics” included Dr Gu, Head of the Pesticides Management Team at the FAO, and Paul Ngaruiya, Ag General Manager, Pest Control Products Board.

Also participating were Marina Venancio, Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee, Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) and Sheila Willis, Head of International Programmes at the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK).

Dr Kuhlmann said, “Financial incentives often favour the intensification of toxic chemicals to increase yield. However, FARM has a particular focus on leveraging finance and aims to align policy, enforcement, and finance towards the environmentally sustainable management of pesticides and agricultural plastics.

“This aligns well with CABI’s own mission of helping smallholder farmers grow more and lose less to potentially devastating crop pests and diseases – such as the fall armyworm on maize – using a range of sustainable biological control agents.”

Dr Gu said, “The FARM project can significantly contribute to reducing the impact of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), by fostering cooperation between FARM member countries, harmonizing regulations and raising awareness on their risks to human health and the environment.”

CABI’s capabilities highlighted

Part of CABI’s role in the FARM programme will include conducting research and development – to converge to pesticide risk reduction by way of identifying effective and affordable low-risk plant protection products, as well as augmentative, classical and conservation biological control methods.

It will also provide support with policies and regulations development and/or improvement as well as conduct evidence of impact studies in the field.

Dr Kuhlmann, as part of his introduction to the roundtable discussion, also highlighted other CABI capabilities including its digital support tools such as the CABI BioProtection Portal, Crop Sprayer App, and Pest Management Decision Guides within the PlantwisePlus Knowledge Bank.

The Global Child Project Inception Meeting brought together key players in sustainable agriculture, including governments, international agencies, NGOs, financial institutions, and the private sector.

The purpose was to further their understanding of FARM, identify opportunities for collaboration, and build the foundation for the FARM network.

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