Agrochemicals Unit Selected Country Achievements in 2006

The activities of the Agrochemicals Unit, as an integral part of the Food and Environmental Protection Sub-programme, have produced significant outputs leading to important outcomes in many countries. The train the trainers approach taken for the workshops and training courses organised by the Unit, along with other outreach activities such as joint sponsorship of regional food safety summits, has also had considerable impact on awareness-building and expansion of the knowledge-base in Member States. Some specific examples are summarised below:

Bangladesh Dr. Md. Mazibur Rahman, a participant in the 2005 training workshop "Introduction to QA/QC measures in pesticide residue analytical laboratories", presented the information from the workshop at a high-level National Seminar on "Pesticide residue research and monitoring in the environment", 26 February 2006, Atomic Energy Centre, Dhaka. The seminar had approximately 100 participants including representatives of the Department of Agriculture, the Ministry of Science Information and Communication Technology, and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. The meeting recommended, inter alia, that pesticide residue monitoring must be continued because of its extreme importance in maintaining food and environmental safety and promoting trade in agricultural products; that training of personnel in pesticide residue analysis is essential; and that efforts must be made to create a National Centre which should become an accredited laboratory. A well equipped modern laboratory facility has been established at the Institute of Food and Radiation Biology in the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, which is able to perform pesticide residue research and monitoring.

Dr. Rahman also organized a National Seminar entitled "Introduction to QA/QC measures in pesticide residue analytical laboratories" at the Institute of Food and Radiation Biology in July 2006, where material from the ACU workshop was presented, including the role of the laboratory in providing feedback to farmers and producers. It was asserted that the lack of operational QA/QC systems in Bangladesh has circumscribed the entry of Bangladeshi agricultural and fishery products into International market.

Thailand In 2006, The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission carried out an inspection of facilities in Thailand with respect to residues of veterinary drugs in food for export to the EU. The laboratory capabilities, including quality assurance aspects, put in place with assistance from ACU in training, methodology transfer and the participation of the Veterinary Public Health Laboratory in a CRP, satisfied the inspectors and trade in aquaculture and poultry products, a major source of income for Thailand (export of poultry and shrimps to the EU was worth more than 700 million in 2005), continues.

One of our training workshop participants, Ms. Leepipatiboon, having planned and implemented training courses on method validation and instrumental analysis in Thailand in 2006, also presented lectures and practical sessions at the 2006 ACU Training Workshop in Seibersdorf.

Brazil The EU carried out a follow-up visit to Brazil after the previous FVO inspection in 2005 found that the necessary assurances were not in place to guarantee that exports of food commodities to the EU were safe in terms of veterinary drug residues. Analytical methods and protocols provided by ACU and developed under the CRP Development of strategies for the effective monitoring of veterinary drug residues in livestock and livestock products in developing countries helped address the shortfall and maintain trade (beef and poultry exports to EU were worth 1.5 billion in 2005).

The impact of the Agency's training and capacity building activities in Brazil and other countries was acknowledged by an FVO inspector in a recent meeting with the ACU Unit Head.

Nigeria Following training in a workshop on mycotoxins analysis in 2003, the mycotoxins laboratory in Lagos has now implemented testing for a range of mycotoxins in almost all agricultural commodities for export, for example aflatoxin M1 in milk, total aflatoxins in cereal and cereal products (oats, wheat, corn, groundnut, peanut, vegetable oil, etc.) and ochratoxin A in coffee, tea and rice. The laboratory is participating successfully in international proficiency tests (FAPAS). A very successful National Workshop on mycotoxins was held in 2005.

General Based on data extracted from the responses to questionnaires sent to TC Counterparts, CRP participants and recipients of fellowship training or scientific visits, as part of the FAO Autoevaluation of the FEP Sub-programme, covering the years 2002-2005, 73% of TCP respondants, 63% of CRP respondants and 76% of fellows/scientific visitors said that their laboratory has the capacity to better comply with standards as a result of participation in the project/programme. Only 3% of CRP participants and 6% of fellows/scientific visitors responded in the negative, the remainder replied not applicable.