Step by Step with Farmers
Innovations in agricultural research and development translate into specific solutions to protect crops from pests, diseases, and weeds, as well as biotech in seeds which can bring multiple benefits. All these contribute to producing more in less area. In Latin America, there is more pest incidence and aggressiveness than in other latitudes, which increases the likelihood of pests becoming more resistant. Therefore, the industry, represented regionally by CropLife Latin America and the CuidAgro program, emphasizes the importance of responsible phytosanitary product management, including strategies designed to avoid pest resistance.
CuidAgro, integrated by government and members of the agribusiness through associations in 18 countries in Latin America, is bringing farmers training courses to help improve their productivity, agricultural practices, and ultimately ensure a more sustainable agriculture. Properly using technologies is a responsibility shared by farmers, distributors, manufacturers, and authorities. While much has been achieved, there is still a lot that can be done, particularly considering that most issues involving pesticides result from poor agricultural practices – e.g., farmers sometimes do not read or follow label instructions, nor do they wear personal protection equipment.
The final disposal of empty agrochemical product containers is fundamental to mitigate risks to the environment. We are proud to have in place, perhaps, the most efficient initiative in the world in Latin America. The 18 country members adhere to the “Campo Limpio” (“Clean Field”) program, which in 2016 recovered, reprocessed, and transformed more than 61,000 tonnes of plastic. Of these, some 48,000 tons (78% of the total recovered) were in Brazil and represent 95% of the plastic that the industry sold. This program is a clear example of what can be accomplish when farmers, distributors, the industry, government, and processors join forces towards achieving a goal.
Executive President - CropLife Latin America
Another important safety issue is illegal products and smuggling. Today, more than 80 percent of the illegal products which are commercialized in the region come either from China or India, and are not registered. Illegal activities can be very attractive due to its high profitability. It is important to establish and enforce laws to control this market which otherwise can ran amok.
Step by Step with Farmers
Among the dangers of using illegal products are: productivity loss due to lack of effectiveness; the concentration of unknown, unregulated chemicals and resulting risks to human health and to the environment. Thus, it is fundamental for the industry and local authorities to work together to curb this crime.
The illegal product and smuggling problem is compounded by politicization and delays in registration processes or permits to market new phytosanitary products. Whenever red tape delays the arrival of new technologies to the market, illegal trade is encouraged. The industry defends and encourages the scientific evaluation of plant protection products, which should be carried out by the relevant authorities in a transparent, strict manner to provide society confidence in the product safety and efficacy. Unfortunately, in many Latin American countries excessive bureaucracy and adherence to rules and formalities, hinders the registration process and approval of products negatively impacting farming businesses and posing societal and environmental health risks.
Even though the agrochemical sector is one of the most regulated industries in the world, yet many people still question the benefits of modern agriculture technologies, especially biotechnology. The industry proactively discusses innovation in the open forum, the benefits new technologies can afford, and the progress that agriculture achieved over the past 50 years as a result of implementing new solutions. Considering the great potential and the role of Latin America, which today produces 11% to 16% of the world’s food, we are compelled to have a constructive dialogue and to ensure an adequate and efficient framework is established.
Consumers, especially in the cities, need to understand the complexity of agriculture as a socioeconomic activity. Farming requires innovation, science, and technology to ensure a sufficient and sustainable food supply. Growers play a pivotal role pushing the development of new solutions, adopting and implementing them. Probably no one can explain the science, the risks, and the efforts behind bringing food to our tables better than they can. That is why, at CropLife Latin America, we will carry on, step by step, together with farmers to ensure that agriculture continues to produce the food and inputs society needs in an environmental safe way.