The small Central American country of Costa Rica has one of the highest intensities of pesticide use in the world, despite its renown for being a peaceful, ecofriendly tourist destination, rich in biodiversity. Pesticide imports have risen steeply during the past three decades, many of the pesticides used being highly hazardous in terms of acute toxicity, chronic health effects and/or environmental contamination. The fungicide mancozeb, for example, forms the highest volume of pesticide imports and is used intensively in banana and pineapple cultivation, sometimes via aerial spraying.
A new collaborative project in Costa Rica run by the Regional Institute for Research into Toxic Substances (IRET) with Pesticide Action Network UK, with funding from the UN’s Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), is seeking to address the problems, by
- Identifying which pesticides and use patterns are Highly Hazardous in the Costa Rican context, using a life cycle approach (from regulation/import to disposal).
- Bringing together government agencies, the agriculture sector and NGOs to develop a joint National Action Plan for HHP Risk and Use Reduction.
- Raising awareness of HHPs, their hazards and risky practices by users and train smallholder organizations and farm workers in practical measures to reduce their exposure and risks to health and the environment.
- Identifying potential alternative pest management options for priority HHPs and trial the most feasible with a network of pilot farms for IPM.
- Sharing lessons, good practices and useful experiences with other countries in Central America