Agriculture – Overuse of pesticides in Senegal: Actors are sounding the alarm – Lequotidien

Agriculture – Overuse of pesticides in Senegal: Actors are sounding the alarm – Lequotidien
Agriculture – Overuse of pesticides in Senegal: Actors are sounding the alarm – Lequotidien

Defenders of healthier and eco-responsible agriculture are sounding the alarm about the consequences of the use of pesticides. In Senegal, between 500 and 700 tonnes are subsidized each year.

By Malick GAYE – Between 500 and 700 tonnes per year of pesticides, this is the volume that the Senegalese taxpayer subsidizes each year, according to Fabian Heppe. The director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation believes that “Africa is increasingly dependent on agricultural pesticides. 33 million small farmers on the continent are targeted by manufacturers who also sell substances banned in the European Union. Imports of pesticides into West Africa have doubled in five years. And to warn of the dangers of overuse, the Atlas of Pesticides in Senegal was published yesterday. It brings together 27 contributions on the propagation, use and risks of pesticides for humanity and the ecosystem, three of which come from Senegal. It provides facts and figures on the use of pesticides and their impact in agriculture, on human health, biodiversity, water and soil. “Pesticide imports into West Africa have doubled in five years. The increasing cost of agricultural labor, the pressure to increase land productivity and the availability of cheap products manufactured abroad explain this growing use in Africa,” informs Fabian Heppe. Which specifies that “data on their use remains insufficient, which is worrying, because the real impact on the environment, farmers and consumers is probably underestimated”. Based on this observation, Fabian Heppe affirms that excessive use now causes health problems and soil degradation, harmful to the ecosystem. “Each year, 385 million people suffer from pesticide poisoning, with farmers most at risk. However, pesticides also affect those who do not directly work in this sector, contaminating the environment and food. In low-income countries like Burkina Faso, up to 83% of the active agricultural population are affected by poisonings,” he notes.

Furthermore, it is the joint committee Sahelian Committee for Pesticides (Csp)/West African Committee for the Approval of Pesticides (Coahp) which is responsible for the approval of pesticides intended to enter the member countries of Cilss and ECOWAS. . For any new product, the Csp/Coahp first issues a Provisional Sales Authorization (Apv) if most of the data required, in order to evaluate the approval criteria, are provided and only additional information, which cannot be provided only after large-scale application of the pesticide, are missing. The Apv has a duration of 3 years, renewable once, time to allow the production of additional data necessary for a new evaluation which could allow approval.

In 2022, the list of approved pesticides with Apv included 161 products. The Plant Protection Directorate (Dpv) of the Ministry of Agriculture controls the entry of approved pesticides or with Apv into Coahp countries, but cross-border trade and illicit trafficking often escape this control. In Senegal, the Environment Department of the Ministry of the Environment sometimes grants, for various reasons, exemptions to national agro-industrial companies to directly import pesticides outside of the approval process. In Senegal, monitoring by the Poison Control Center highlights the following: “Out of 99 cases of pesticides out of 721 between 2008 and 2020. 74% recorded in the Dakar region, more than half concern men, or 54%.”

“We are also witnessing the alarming disappearance of essential pollinators such as bees, numerous cases of critical food poisoning, water pollution, without however generating massive awareness among populations, especially among the lowest strata. most exposed, that is to say farmers, and among the most vulnerable groups”, alarms the Executive Secretary of Enda Pronat. According to Jean-Michel Waly Sène, Africa is the continent that uses the least amount of pesticides and yet it is the region of the world where these dangerous products cause the most damage. “This places us today facing a silent health crisis, where exposure to agricultural pesticides has become omnipresent, affecting agricultural workers, rural communities and even end consumers through residues present in food,” says- he.
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