This year’s hub meeting for CropLife Eastern and Southern Africa took place in Harare, Zimbabwe on the 29th and 30th August, 2017. The meeting brought together representatives from member companies, regulators and the national Agrochem associations from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mauritius and South Africa.
Mr. Nhema, who is the chair of CropLife Zimbabwe gave the welcoming address which was followed by a Keynote address from the Hub Chair- Dirk Hartmann. The director of communication for CropLife

International Will Surman gave a thought-provoking presentation on the fate of plant science communications in this era of fake news. The presentation gave the participants simple tools for identification of biased reporting of facts and how to use emotive messaging as a counter measure. Some of the priority communication topics that the associations were asked to look out for are; Highly Hazardous Pesticides, Anti-counterfeiting, pollinator health and Endocrine disruptors. Emotive messaging to relay messages in social media pages, newsletters and other media was highlighted as key to impactful delivery of information.

Will Surman gives a presentation on communications

Mr. Keith Jones then gave a detailed presentation on risk mitigation. The presentation outlined why members should undertake risk mitigation, the risks that we are currently facing in the pesticide industry, when and how to manage the risks as well as the monitoring tools available. Mr. Jones explained the flow of risk mitigation as statement of the risk at hand, identification of the cause of the risk, proposition of a solution, the expected results and means of verification that the risk has been alleviated.

Fig 1- Participants from E Africa discussing risk mitigation strategies.

Some of the measures being taken to reduce risks from pesticides were given as: formulation changes to reduce risk from airborne dust drift, microencapsulation of active ingredients, inclusion of additives that reduce volatization, addition of surfactants and thickeners to increase adherence to surfaces and reduce spray drift, restriction of use to prevent abuse as well as improved spraying techniques such as encouraging the practice of spraying behind/sideways to reduce walking into sprayed areas.

Label changes to pass key consumer messages as well as IPM and training on proper sprayer use were further recommended as risk mitigation measures.

The participants split into smaller regional groups from where they discussed risks they are likely to face in their countries and ways of mitigating them up to verification. Some of the topics covered were management of obsolete pesticides, disposal of empty pesticide containers, responsible use of pesticides and good agricultural practices by farmers.
The meeting also discussed the container management and Spray service provider (SSP) projects which are being undertaken in several countries. Participants were given pointers on collection of data for monitoring of SSP’s in particular the use of enumerators who understand and are involved in SSP activities, collecting data at opportune moments to rectify mistakes as well as for reporting to donors and partners. The methods of data collection were given as physical field visits, telephone interviews and electronic collection. The advantages of POI mapper which is an online based data collection tool. The application is loaded onto a mobile device from which data is entered in the field and uploaded to a central database once the user is connected to the internet. It reduces the use of hard copy questionnaires, has less data entry errors and can be monitored remotely which makes it very cost effective. Data analysis to weed out non-conforming responses was explained.
On the container management project, presenters from Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Malawi shared experiences with respect to challenges being faced and the available opportunities for sustainability, recycling and fund raising to support the project in the respective hub member countries.