Serbia: Stricter pesticide regulations to be introduced in January 2022

The overuse of pesticides can endanger food safety, damage harvest yields and it can even pollute the local waterways.

Green tomatoes
Beeld: ©Markus Spiske

As from January 1, 2022, the amendments to the Law on Plant Protection will require the mandatory training of all users of plant protection products, proper certification, as well as regular control of equipment used in the treatment of fruits and vegetables.

These new measures primarily aim to increase the level of food safety. Before their implementation, the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation initiated a survey on a sample of slightly over 1.000 farmers in 116 municipalities in Serbia, which showed that the majority of respondents purchase their pesticides and other agro-chemicals in local agricultural pharmacies.

Ninety percent of all interviewed farmers are aware of the prescribed time between spraying and picking the fruit, but only half care about the so-called “drift” (deviation path of pesticide drops from the treated surface). One-third of farmers follow the list of permitted chemical substances in the European Union and less than a third use protective (safety) equipment when spraying.

"The Ministry of Agriculture, through its Extension/Advisory Services, provided farmers with the services of licensed Plant Protection Engineers  completely free of charge," stated Assistant Minister of Agriculture for Rural development Mr. Aleksandar Bogicevic. It is  foreseen  that farmers will be continuously trained by consultants from the state-run Agro Advisory Service. Keeping a so-called “Diary of crop spraying” will be a bonus for getting subsidies. In this way, farmers’ casual expression - "just throwing fertilizer" could be replaced by new, more precise terminology.

"For example, farmers can buy as much pesticides (agro-chemicals) as they reported in their crop production registration form (exact area and crop type). They can get exactly the right amount of pesticides, no more no less, to achieve the right effect. The idea is to avoid farmers’ usual behavior of spray a bit more for better results. In fact, the overuse of pesticides does not only pollute the finished products, but often has a bad effect on yields as well ", said Mr. Uroš Delić from the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation.

“Pesticide waste is just as dangerous as medicinal waste. When mixed with communal garbage, it can pollute a landfill or even get into a local river. The recommendation to farmers is to at least wash the packaging well before disposing. The largest part of pesticide packaging waste is handled with communal waste and is incinerated. Only about 10% of all pesticide packaging is handled in the right way, e.g. it is disposed until further recycling," said prof. Dr. Goran Malidza from the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops in Novi Sad.


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