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ECPA project sharing best practices on residue reduction

ECPA is transferring the knowledge gained in Almeria to the Antalya region of Turkey so it can benefit from the Spanish success in improving residue management.

Almeria’s move from a fairly high rate of exceedance of maximum residue levels (MRLs) to now being among the best in class in Mediterranean greenhouse production is a success story the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) is using to help farmers in other areas. Under its residue management project, ECPA is transferring the knowledge gained in Almeria to the Antalya region of Turkey so it can benefit from the Spanish success in improving residue management. The project focuses on tomatoes and peppers as they are among the most widely consumed vegetables and, because of tough climatic conditions, they are also difficult to manage in terms of controlling diseases and pests.

Responding to consumer concerns about residues

The 2013 annual residue report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) showed the vast majority of food contains no measurable residues, or residues below MRLs. However, the recent Eurobarometer shows that the issue of pesticide residues in food is one that consumers are particularly concerned about. “We want to try to address this through our residue management project,” said ECPA director general Jean-Charles Bocquet, “and for consumers to feel confident about the food they eat.” The project aims to support the reduction of residues by promoting use of integrated pest management (IPM) principles and good agricultural practices.

Public affairs director Graeme Taylor told ED that ECPA takes consumer concerns seriously – hence its commitment to address them through dedicated activities. “We want to contribute to fostering consumer trust by addressing and explaining the issues of pesticide residues and residues management. We want to explain that European food is safe and show consumers what it takes to grow a healthy plant, explain why farmers need crop protection products or why sometimes pesticide residues occur. And most importantly, present what our industry and farmers are doing to minimise, if not eliminate, any risk for the consumer,” he said.

ECPA public affairs director Graeme Taylor

Transfer of best practice: train-the-trainers concept the key

The project harnesses the train the trainer concept and started with the training of 7 master trainers in Spain, who have gone on to train trainers for Turkey. Since its start in 2013, there have been 135 attendees in training held in Antalya, with further 60 participants at two sessions held in November 2015. Feedback showed the training was found useful, particularly the topics of IPM, biologicals and sulfur sublimation.

Future activities

Taylor said ECPA is now looking to share the experience and knowledge gained in Spain and Turkey with other EU countries.

Among other goals are:

  • Cooperation and use of synergies with other ECPA projects and initiatives
  • Given imports from third countries are more likely to show MRL exceedances – cooperation with other institutions and projects in countries outside EU (e.g. CropLife International)
  • Extension of tailor-made training from advisors to farmers

Food safety is not an area of competition but an area of cooperation and we want to share lessons learned with other partners,” Taylor said.

For more information:

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EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility underway

An EU secretariat has now been set up to share information and experience and coordinate Member State work on making more plant protection products available to growers for minor uses and specialty crops.

An EU secretariat has now been set up to share information and experience and coordinate Member State work on making more plant protection products available to growers for minor uses and specialty crops.

Such niche crops may be of a high economic value for farmers, but are usually of low economic interest for the agro-pesticide industry, according to a press release from the new EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility.

Its mission is “to enable farmers in the EU to produce high quality crops by filling minor uses gaps through efficient collaboration to improve availability of chemical and non-chemical tools within an integrated pest management (IPM) framework.”

As of September 1, Jeroen Meeussen has been the coordinator for the new EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility. Speaking from his office in Paris, Jeroen said he looks forward to the challenge of improving co-ordination between countries, grower organisations and industry to develop solutions for minor uses.

“One of my priorities will be to liaise with applicants, growers, Member States and other relevant stakeholders. I will also be drawing on experience from other minor use projects around the globe,” he said.

Jointly funded, initially, by the EU and the governments of France, Germany and the Netherlands, the facility is hosted by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) in Paris. The EU has committed to provide 50% of the costs for the first three years.

The main task of the facility will be to address gaps in pest and disease control measures available for so called ‘minor crops’ and for minor pests on other crops for farmers as well as for gardeners.

Visit the new EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility website.

More articles on minor uses here.

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ECPA in defence of minor uses

The European Crop Protection Association is collaborating with European partners in a bid to increase solutions allowable for minor crops

The European Crop Protection Association is collaborating with European partners in a bid to increase solutions allowable for minor crops

As work gets underway to set up a European secretariat on minor uses, the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) is continuing to work with various agri food partners to advance the addition of new options in crop protection for so-called minor crops.

Making more plant protection products available to growers for minor uses and specialty crops remains a pressing need in Europe. As the Belgium-based organisation says, in EU jargon fruit and vegetables may be referred to as ‘minor crops’, but to farmers and consumers they are of major interest and require tailor-made protection from pests and diseases.

‘Minor uses’ is the term often used to describe plant protection solutions for specialty crops, usually where the crop is considered of low economic importance at national level (minor crop). The term is also used in regard to specific uses for major crops when a particular disease, pest or weed occurs only in limited situations and is considered of limited importance (minor pest). It should be noted a minor use in one country may be a major use in another country (each country is responsible for defining its minor uses).

Crops needing solutions include favourites like Bok choy in the Netherlands. spring onions in the UK

According to ECPA, minor use crops are facing an increasing lack of economically viable pesticide solutions for their protection. ECPA’s Director of Stewardship and Sustainability, Claudia Michel, told ED it is engaged in achieving an increase in solutions available for minor crops, not just major fruit and vegetable crops.

“ECPA is collaborating with different partners in agri-food change at the EU level and working towards the acceleration of the registration of such products,” she said. “This can often involve mutual recognition or extension of existing uses for minor use.”

Examples of such fruit and vegetable crops particularly in need of such options are Bok choy in the Netherlands, spring onions in the UK and hops in Germany, she said.

“It’s important not just to protect crops,” Michel stressed, “but to have a proper strategy and for resistance management you need a good amount of solutions you can apply.” Michel welcomed moves underway in the EU to establish a minor use secretariat to address the issue in a more coherent way.

EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility

The European Commission, France, Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to jointly fund the secretariat – also known as the EU Minor Uses Coordination Facility. Its main tasks will include the sharing of information and experience and coordination of Member State work on minor uses.

The Paris-based European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) will host the secretariat and at time of writing was advertising to recruit a coordinator for it, with a closing time for applications of noon on June 15.

Minor use, major value

To illustrate the problems facing minor uses solutions, ECPA has helped develop postcards showcasing the pests and diseases threatening some fruit and vegetables and the possible consequences without tailor-made solutions.
Here are excerpts from one:

Crop: Bell pepper (genus Capsicum)
Pest threat: Xanthomonas, a genus of Proteobacteria
Region at risk: Portugal
Crop area at risk: 1,700 ha

Potential pest impact: Bacterial spot is one of the most devastating diseases in pepper & tomato crops grown in warm, moist environments. Once present it is almost impossible to control.
What’s the problem? If the EU fails to support the technologies required to produce speciality crops, bell peppers and other popular fruits and vegetables may no longer be grown in Europe.


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What’s happening with crop protection in Europe?

ECPA is the professional body that represents the plant protection sector in Europe

Q&A with Jean Charles Bocquet, managing director of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA)

1/ What is ECPA and what are its objectives?
ECPA is the professional body that represents the plant protection sector in Europe. Its members (21 companies and 32 national associations) are committed to the daily challenge of developing and promoting modern solutions that protect crops against pests and diseases in order to secure the production of healthy food that is financially viable. ECPA members support science-based regulatory measures that include evaluations and management decisions based on a risk-benefit analysis of all the proposed solutions in order to guarantee a high level of safety for humans and for the environment.

2/ What issues do the different projects ECPA is working on tackle?
Which are aimed at producers and which at consumers? ECPA and its members’ daily involvement with regulatory documents and product support is not sufficiently known by the public at large or by politicians. In order to change this, we launched our HUNGRY FOR CHANGE project (known in French as soif de changement) at the end of 2011. This is a clear expression of our will to change things, not only in relation to civil society but also internally, through more sharing of all the initiatives on the ground. For instance, we are coordinating 12 specific projects in the fields of food, water, biodiversity and health. All these projects aim to prove through concrete actions that modern plant protection solutions make it possible to reconcile competitiveness and sustainability. They are often implemented in partnership with the authorities, research institutes, distributors and farmers, and also with NGOs. Their aim is to promote the collective development of good product use practices through training and a network of demonstration farms. We want to work with all the stakeholders involved in sustainable production methods.

3/ Do ECPA projects pay particular attention to the fruit and vegetable sector?
The fruit and vegetable sector is important for ECPA in more than one way! Many crops are sold “as is” in fruit and vegetable sections or directly by the farmers in short chain circuits. With the farmers, we therefore need to ensure that the product use instructions have been followed properly in order to comply with the maximum residue level regulations. That is why we have set up specific programs to train farmers and technical staff in how to comply with good practice. We also know that many crops lack effective solutions for combating numerous parasite problems. We welcome the new European secretariat to coordinate minor uses, set up thanks to the collective efforts of the sector. The European commission, France, the Netherlands and Germany have collectively pledged €700,000 to ensure the start-up of this secretariat and the ECPA members have undertaken to contribute their technical expertise in order to address unforeseen minor uses as quickly as possible, thanks to our experience in the different member states.

4/ What is your view of the evolution of complementary means of protection?
Society’s expectations favour using non-chemical plant protection methods. This is also one of the aims of the ECOPHYTO plan in France. At the European level, integrated crop protection has been part of the member states’ commitments since January 2014. ECPA and its members did not wait for these political decisions before committing themselves to researching and readying real solution packages: variety research for the seed teams, biocontrol solutions, decision-making tools, and chemical solutions obtained by pure synthesis or by copying natural molecules such as pheromones. An increasingly important part of our work is to seek out biocontrol products. In some member states, nearly 50% of the biocontrol products or the solutions approved for organic farming are supplied by ECPA members. Nowadays, this complementarity of control methods, combining agronomy, biocontrol, monitoring and decision-making and chemical control, responds to the objective of competitive, sustainable fruit and vegetable growing.


From edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.