$379 million initiative

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June 16, 2024

$379 million initiative

  • Ecuador, India, Kenya, Laos, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam have joined forces to reduce the environmental impact of the agricultural sector
  • Highly hazardous pesticides and plastic waste from agriculture release toxic persistent organic pollutants into the environment, also harming human health
  • $379 million initiative will realign financial incentives to prevent the use of harmful inputs in food production

Nairobi, 12 March 2023 – The governments of Ecuador, India, Kenya, Laos, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam have come together to launch a $379 million initiative to combat pollution from the use of pesticides and plastics in agriculture.

Chemicals play a crucial role in farming, with nearly 4 billion tons of pesticides and 12 billion kg of agricultural plastics used every year.

Despite their benefits for food yields, these chemicals pose significant risks to human health and the environment. As many as 11,000 people die from the toxic effects of pesticides annually, and chemical residues can degrade ecosystems, diminishing soil health and farmers’ resilience to climate change. The opening burning of agricultural plastics also contributes to an air pollution crisis that causes one in nine deaths worldwide.

Highly hazardous pesticides and mismanaged agricultural plastics release toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) – chemicals which don’t break down in the environment and contaminate air, water, and food. These inputs are generally cheaper than sustainable alternatives, giving farmers little incentive to adopt better practices.

The Financing Agrochemical Reduction and Management Programme – or FARM – led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), seeks to change that, elaborating the business case for banks and policy-makers to reorient policy and financial resources towards farmers to help them adopt low- and non-chemical alternatives to toxic agrochemicals and facilitate a transition towards better practices.

The five-year programme is projected to prevent over 51,000 tons of hazardous pesticides and over 20,000 tons of plastic waste from being released, while avoiding 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and protecting over 3 million hectares of land from degradation as farms and farmers convert to low-chemical and non-chemical alternatives.

“Our current agricultural system relies on harmful chemicals, this is not necessary. FARM offers a powerful alternative model, empowering farmers with the knowledge and resources to transition to sustainable practices that safeguard our health and environment and also boost yields and profits,” said Anil Sookdeo, Chemicals Coordinator at the GEF.

To do this, the FARM programme will support government regulation to phase out POPs-containing agrochemicals and agri-plastics and adopt better management standards, while strengthening banking, insurance and investment criteria to improve the availability of effective pest control, production alternatives and trade in sustainable produce.

“Food productivity and safety is reliant on identifying better practices and safer alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides,” Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of UNEP’s Industry and Economy Division, said. “Adoption is key to scaling these alternatives. There is no real option other than a strong, coordinated response to the pollution crisis.”

The FARM launch event convened representatives from all seven countries, with over 100 partners and stakeholders directly involved in the programme, including public and private banks, policy makers, farmer cooperatives, agrochemical and plastic manufacturers, international organisations, civil society, academia, and retailers.

It marks a step change in collaborative efforts between governments, financial institutions, farmers and manufacturers to combat agricultural pollution, paving the way for a more equitable and resilient food system.
About FARM:

The Financing Agrochemical Reduction and Management Programme (FARM) is a $379 million, five-year initiative to combat agrochemical pollution. Funded by the Global Environment Facility, the programme is led by UNEP, with the support of United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the African Development Bank. Participating countries include Ecuador, India, Kenya, Laos, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a multilateral fund dedicated to confronting biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution, and strains on land and ocean health. Its grants, blended financing, and policy support helps developing countries address their biggest environmental priorities and adhere to international environmental conventions. Over the past three decades, the GEF has provided more than $24 billion in financing and mobilized another $138 billion for more than 5,700 national and regional projects.

About the UN Environment Programme

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

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