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FAO to help train persons to treat pesticide ingestion

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is taking steps to train Guyanese how to treat persons who ingest pesticides, as the country seeks to find ways of battling suicide.

The Government Information Agency reported that the FAO, government and the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board will be holding training exercises “so that persons have the needed skills to treat persons who would have ingested or be exposed to toxic chemicals.”

“This is one of the many initiatives being put in place to address to issues being faced by Guyanese as it relates to the importation of illegal chemicals and the improper use of other toxins,” said GINA.

Several chemicals used on farms are items of choice by persons committing suicide, a leading per capita cause of death in Guyana.

The announcement of the training exercise was made recently at the commissioning of a GUY$46 million Chemicals Storage Facility.

The facility is being housed in the compound of the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI). The Pesticide and Toxic Chemical Control Board (PTCCB) has been emphasizing the need for proper storage facility to house the many illegal pesticides entering Guyana.

The facility was completed in July of 2015 at a cost of GUY $46M. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) currently has a project running to get rid of illegal chemicals across the region.

While delivering remarks at the ceremony the FAO representative to Guyana, Mr Rueben Robertson stated that the FAO continuously seeks to assist member countries of CARICOM with the putting together and proper storage of obsolete chemicals. “We consider the challenges faced by each member state of CARICOM by ensuring the proper registration, storage, use and distribution of these chemicals” Mr. Rueben Robertson said. He also stressed the point of the need for more education and promotion of the proper use of pesticides as this is only done during pesticides week. He stated that “it is moral responsibility to inform our fellow man on the harmful effects of toxic chemicals.”

During his address, Minister of Agriculture Honourable Noel Holder stated that the use of toxic pesticides to manage pest problems has become a common practice around the world. “Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health illnesses, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea, to chronic impacts like cancer, cognitive disorders, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. It is important to note that these health impacts are inherently linked to use practices” said Minister Holder. As part of the Government’s mandate the Minister hopes to achievement of the Global Sustainable Development Goals also demonstrates our commitment to sound chemicals management since seven of these goals are integrally linked to chemicals management. The Minister mentioned that “using improper storage procedures is an open invitation for a disaster to happen. Nearly three-fourths of all pesticide accidents are non-use accidents, often involving children less than 10 years of age. Improper pesticide storage is therefore dangerous to your health, your family and can harm the environment.”

It was also highlighted that very little was done to educate persons responsible for treating those who would have ingested or been exposed to these toxic chemicals as well as the availability of antidotes to effectively treat these persons. The FAO is currently working with the Government of Guyana and the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board to have train exercises conducted so that persons have the needed skills to treat persons who would have ingested or be exposed to toxic chemicals. This is one of the many initiatives being put in place to address to issues being faced by Guyanese as it relates to the importation of illegal chemicals and the improper use of other toxins.

The PTCCB encourages all pesticides importers to have proper storage measures in place. The also carry out routine visits and inspections to importers’ facilities to ensure that they exercise the necessary safety precautions when it comes to the importation, handling and distribution of the toxic chemicals. Farmers and other persons who use toxic chemicals are being encouraged use proper storage facilities to store their chemicals.