|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Through improving the environmental sustainability and increasing the agriculture productivity this RETA will directly contribute to success implementation of ADB's regional and country strategies and programs in the participating countries.
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose adverse effects to
human health and environment. They are hard to be degraded, and can be reserved for a long time, consequently, impact on regional and global environment via air and water transportation, finally impact human health as they move through the food chain. These substances may cause endocrine disorder, damage to the recreation and immunology system, and even lead to cancer and neurosystem disease.
On May 17 2004, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) took effect, serving as the first global agreement on the elimination and reduction of persistent chemicals. It targets an initial 12 chemicals - known as the dirty dozen - for elimination, nine of them are pesticides. The convention bans the production and use of POPs, and also focuses on eliminating obsolete stockpiles of pesticides and toxic chemicals that contains POPs. Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan are signatories to the Stockholm Convention on POPs. PRC, Mongolia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have ratified the documents. .
Since little attention has been accorded to the problem in Central Asian and the Caucasus (CAC) countries, some of the POPs pesticides including DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, and heptachlor are still in use to combat cotton pests in the region. These countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are some of the world's top producers of cotton. Cotton also dominates rural life in Xinjiang, PRC, which has become the largest cotton production center in the PRC.
Cotton is by far the largest user of pesticides, of which many of them are Persistent Toxic Substance(PTS) or POPs. It was observed in the past decades that rising indirect cost of using pesticides have lowered the returns on growing cotton and is a cause of the decline in cotton producing areas. Excessive pesticide use has been associated with build-up of pest resistance, decline in populations of natural enemies, degradation of the environment, and serious health problems among those spraying and picking cotton. Pesticide residues and environmentally unacceptable cultivation practices have increasingly become major constraints in international trade, as consumers in importing countries often reject questionable products.
Soviet-era introduction of cotton monoculture in Central Asia in the 1950s began a 50-year history of intensive agricultural chemical use. This has resulted in large quantities of old and out-dated pesticides (some of which are POPs) which were stockpiled in many countries of CAC region, often in dilapidated buildings with no special facilities, increasing the risk of soil and ground water contamination as well as of human health. Widespread soil pollution was discovered in Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya basins (Tajikistan), in Fergana, Andijan and Khorezm regions (Uzbekistan), and also agricultural areas of Kazakhstan and Kyzgyzstan (Europe's Environment: the Third Assessment, 2004). The study in Tajikistan on pesticides exposure had shown an increased incidence of reparatory diseases, rheumatism, malignant neoplasm of the digestive system, nephritis, gastric ulcers and nervous diseases in areas with high pesticide concentrations presumably located near the obsolete pesticide depositories (United Nations Economic and Social Council. Environmental. Performance Reviews of Tajikistan, 2004). The situation is jeopardizing the sustainability of cotton production in the region.
In the absence of multi-lateral donors (including GEF) intervention, given the low national budgets for pest & pesticide management, weak national health systems, pesticides' exposure on environment and human health, particularly considering POPs' low cost and relative effectiveness as an insecticide, the CAC region face a great challenge to reduce and eliminate the use of POPs pesticides. For addressing the current situation in CAC region, the countries will need alternative options, farmer education and training, public awareness of adverse effects of these chemicals on human health, effective monitoring and enforcement of regulatory measures. At the same time, countries with less capacity to address pest management in cotton crop need help from their neighbors who have capacities or had successful experiences. Only a long-term regional cooperation can help deter some countries from returning to use POPs pesticides to control the pests in cotton crops.
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), as one of 15 centers supported by CGIAR, through its partnership with the eight CAC countries, has identified Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as one of priority collaborative areas with the countries. United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is starting to assist with some countries of the region to develop the National Implementing Plan (NIP) for POPs elimination. United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has accumulated rich experiences/lessons in establishing and implementing financial mechanism (e. g. superfund) for the integrated management and clean-up of the contaminated sites. Some international organizations including United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have programs for,the collection and disposal of obsolete pesticides in PRC, Slovakia , and some African countries.
ADB has implemented and developed extensive agriculture program in CAC region, of which many involved cotton production and marketing promotion. For supporting a sustainable cotton practice in the region, through a strategic partnership among ADB, UNEP, UNIDO, USEPA and ICARDA, this TA will provide an opportunity to remove a trade barrier and reduce human health concerns that exist in cotton in these countries. The proposed regional cooperation on demonstration of environmentally friendly alternative pest management systems in cotton production and integrated management of sites polluted with POPs pesticides will directly contribute to successful implementation of ADB's Regional and country strategies and programs in participating countries.