“Sound chemicals management remains a priority to the government” – Minister Mustapha

PTCCB donates 100 toxic chemicals storage containers to farmers across the country

Today, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB) distributed 100 toxic chemicals storage cabinets to farmers across the country.

The exercise, which was held at the Board’s office in Mon Repos, was aimed at promoting the sound use and storage of toxic chemicals within the agriculture sector.

While offering remarks, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said sound chemicals management remains a priority to the PPP government, and as such, the programme of distributing chemicals storage cabinets to farmers was resuscitated in October 2020. Minister Mustapha also alluded to the fact that misuse or improper use of chemicals has contributed to issues faced in several agriculture-producing regions in the country.

“We know chemicals are being used across the world to enhance crops. In Guyana, our farmers have also been using chemicals to improve their cultivation. However, misuse or improper use of these chemicals has contributed to several issues and a number of factors that have led to deaths in several farming communities. The government, the ministry, and the Board has recognized that it is therefore important to work with the stakeholders and farmers to enhance their ability to properly store these chemicals in a safe place. Proper storage of chemicals can help us to solve one of the most prevalent social issues faced in some of these farming communities. One such issue being suicide by ingestion of a poisonous substance,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha also disclosed that the activity will be held annually and, through the Board, over 100 pesticides storage cabinets will be made available to farmers across the country. 

The project which commenced in 2013, saw over 300 pesticide storage cabinets being distributed to farmers in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Ten by the end of 2016 and was relaunched in 2020 when Minister Mustapha assumed the role of Minister of Agriculture.

Chairman of the PTCCB, Dr. Leslie Munroe said one of the Board’s mandates is to ensure substances that are considered toxic are used and stored responsibly and that the Board is currently working to introduce other pest management tools to farmers across the country.

“Pesticides, as we all know, are poisonous. Our mandate is to ensure that these substances are used responsibly, to minimize the use of those substances that are considered highly toxic, and to introduce the use of those that are considered less toxic. One of the aims we have is to introduce or expand integrated pests management to farmers, which involves the use of other pest management tools. To achieve that, we’ve been working with agencies such as NAREI and GRDB. We also want to join with the importers of pesticides, to help us get enough financing to push the project forward so that more farmers across the country can benefit from these cabinets to properly store these containers,” Dr. Monure said

Registrar of the PTCCB, Trecia Davis said since 2008, the Board has been implementing legislation that provides guidance on what needs to be done to ensure sound chemicals management is achieved.

“The Board is grateful to have a legislation that provides guidance as to what needs to be done to ensure sound chemicals management. We’ve been implementing this legislation at the Board since 2008 as we strive to achieve sound chemicals management across the country. Sound chemicals management is the management of these chemicals throughout the life cycle; that is from import to storage to use. During my years as an inspector, I had a lot of experience seeing how pesticides were stored when farmers purchase them for use and it gave me goosebumps. Yes, these chemicals are of significant importance to the agriculture sector in Guyana but they are also very dangerous. While there are significant benefits to these chemicals, we often forget the proposed risk that exists. Today, the aspect of storage is one that we are still very much passionate about and I want to commend Minister Mustapha for the support that he has given to the Board to promote this initiative,” Ms. David said

Over the years, the Board has managed to ensure that 70% of the chemicals used in Guyana’s agriculture sector are now considered moderately hazardous and unlikely to cause issues if used according to the manufacturer’s instructions rather than hazardous of extremely hazardous.