Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Nancy Tembo has commissioned a scheme which will help disposing of about 300 metric tonnes (MT) of empty pesticide containers produced annually in the country.
Speaking at Bvumbwe Research Station in Thyolo on Friday when she commissioned the Empty Pesticides and Industrial Chemicals Containers Management Pilot Scheme, the minister said strengthening end-of-cycle management of pesticides will reduce environmental risks associated with poor management of empty pesticide containers in rural and urban areas.
She said: “Most importantly, the project will protect our smallholder farmers who are always at risk as most of them re-use these pesticides containers as drinking water or storage buckets without knowing the risks associated with it.”
During the event, Tembo also launched a state-of-the-art shredding plant for pesticide plastic containers.
In his remarks, Food and Agricultural Organisation representative George Phiri said the initiative is of great significance to the country’s agro-based economy, adding a recent feasibility study conducted by the Global Environmental Fund in the country revealed that 80 percent of used pesticide containers are recyclable.
He said the launch of the scheme will make the global market to “open up a bit more to Malawian products” as international markets demand proof of pesticide stewardship along the pesticide lifecycle up to pesticide waste disposal.
Said Phiri: “Strengthening such end-of-cycle management of pesticides will help improve the marketability of agricultural produce and improve global market opportunities.”
On his part, CropLife Malawi chairperson Thyphord Chirwa, whose organisation represented the plant science industry in the country, said the plastic shredder plant will help address environmental concerns by ensuring that all used pesticides containers are safely disposed of through recycling in the country.
The scheme will be implemented by the Pesticides Control Board.