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CropLife AME calls for functioning Agro Input Markets despite lockdown measures related to the COVID-19 Crisis

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact including the pesticide industry in the Africa and Middle East region. Various countries are faced with partial to total lockdown which is having an effect on the ease of doing business and on agricultural production as a whole. Although it is too early to measure the actual impact, discussions with the national associations in the region indicate growing disruptions in the agricultural sector which employs an average of 60% of the population. The challenges faced by Africa Middle East countries will impact global supplies in the future and is therefore something of global interest.

Together with health workers who are at the forefront of this crisis, farmers and the agricultural sector have a key role to play in this COVID-19 crisis management by assuring continued food supply especially for the local population. With often above 50% food imports and at times stock levels of a few weeks only, local production and its national distribution may become more important in the coming months. Regardless of the measures to enforce quarantine and social distancing, people will need reliable and regular food supply just like they will require medical supplies.

Pesticide imports and interstate movement of pesticides are critical factors for crop protection products to reach distributors and eventually farmers. The free flow of inputs is essential in countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, countries which are soon going into peak planting and growing season.

The East Africa region has also seen an upsurge of locusts especially in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Disrupted distribution of the required products will be a major setback in locust control. Similarly, Fall Armyworm (FAW) control continues to be a challenge in the Southern Africa countries. Similar concerns exist in countries in West Central Africa where the planting season is approaching for cotton and staple foods. In addition, the main export crop cocoa will require the annual plant protection products to control pests and diseases in the coming months.

Farmers and Farm workers are in the frontline of providing the world with a stable food supply. Now they will be instrumental in keeping a health crisis from turning into a hunger crisis. While non-essential travel restrictions have been an important way to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19, we must ensure the uninterrupted and timely supply of crop protection products, seeds and fertilizers so farmers can continue to maximize yields and ensure high quality harvests. Any delay within the agricultural input supply chain could put food supplies within the region at risk.

Realising that this is a challenge for all to overcome, CropLife Africa Middle East member companies are working hard to continue providing the farming communities with the needed tools and inputs to maintain a stable food supply and will look to governments to continue to treat food production as an essential service in the response to COVID-19 and to ensure that food insecurity does not further increase this challenge.


As the regional association representing the plant science industry, we are committed to supporting the national association network with information and expertise on how different countries succeed to maintain a functioning agro-input market and sustainable agricultural production also under the challenging COVID-19 situation.

We appeal to governments in the region to consider agricultural inputs as essential goods so as to ensure farmer access to these inputs, under strict observation of health guidelines (social distancing) to ensure safety for all. Food security in the coming months can only be secured if farmers can access these inputs on time and in the right quantities.

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Spray Service Providers (SSPs) in action in Ghana

As far as one can see there are beds with vegetables; peppers, okra, carrots, but above all, tomatoes. We are in Ghana in the Volta region, around Keta. Thousands of farmers grow their vegetables here year-round thanks to irrigation systems. In early 2019, CropLife, in collaboration with the SNV HortiFresh program, selected and trained young farmers to become Spray Service Providers (SSPs). In just a few months’, 268 SSPs graduated of which 90 are in the Volta region.

During the graduation ceremony, all SSPs received a full set of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a ledger for record keeping and an Identity Card which states that they are trained SSPs.

A year on, the 90 SSPs in the Volta region have so far serviced 1,506 farmers by applying pesticides for them on their vegetable farms. The price for the service provided is negotiated between the farmer and the SSP. The pesticides used can be purchased by the farmer or the SSP and is not included in the fees charged.

SSP Aaron Gadagbui, arrives on a brand-new motorbike. When he removes his helmet, he proudly points to it: “I have saved up all the money that I made with my spraying activities, so I could buy this motorbike. Now I can reach even more farmers and I can earn more money.”
Aaron lives in Kportorgbe, a small community in the Anloga district.He wanted to be trained as an SSP because he wanted, in addition to making some extra money, to help female farmers with the spraying of pesticides. He explains: “I see that for most female farmers the application of pesticides is not easy. They spend money on low quality chemicals that often do not give the expected results. When they hire me, they know I will only use good quality pesticides; they spend less money in the end and get higher yields in return.”

Before becoming SSPs, young farmers are selected by their community and CropLife according to strict selection criteria. At the end of a 4-day technical and 1-day business trainer, they need to undergo a theoretical and a practical exam. Only those that pass both exams will become SSP.

SSP Wonder Adukonu Gameli from Kportorgbe has happy clients. He says: “They see the advantages of good application. Already after a few days they notice they have less pests in their fields.” Wonder is also happy with the extra income he makes. “I produce seedlings and with the money I made from my spraying activities, I was able to lease more land to expand my seedling production area.”

The extra money is not the only advantage for Wonder: “I apply what I have learned on my own field which helps my seedling business. In addition, I came to realize the importance of always wearing my PPE. Before I was trained, I never wore any PPE and often had skin rashes. Now I have no problems any longer with my skin.”

After the initial training program, CropLife monitors the activities of the SSPs in the field. During these visits, SSPs can discuss any challenge they face. In addition, the ledgers are checked, and data is recorded to keep check of the performances of SSPs.

Another satisfied SSP is Richard Kofi Fiagbe from Anlago, although for the moment, he is not active as an SSP. He explains: “I have used the money that I earned as an SSP to enrol in a course at the Cape Coast University. I never thought I could make enough money to do this, but I managed.”

He admits that he learned a lot during the SSP course: “Especially the sessions covering spraying techniques and spray equipment which was really useful for me. I thought I knew these things, but our trainer Uncle Bob was able to teach me new things. Who knows one day, I will be able to train farmers to become SSPs.”

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CropLife Ethiopia Ramp up SSP Training Activities

CropLife Africa Middle East was a consortium partner with SNV Ethiopia (Netherlands development organization) in Phase (I) of the Horti-LIFE project which ended in June 2019. SNV decided on a Horti-LIFE Phase (II) which includes the full support of CropLife Ethiopia by setting up a Project Management Unit (PMU) within the CropLife Ethiopia national association. In August 2019, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the partnership agreement covering the support of SNV- Horti-LIFE and operational costs of the PMU for Spray Service Providers (SSPs) & Kebele Pesticide Agents (KPAs) was signed between the two parties in the presence of the CLAME team. The term of this agreement extends from August 2019 to June 2023,.

The MoU defines the roles and responsibilities of both parties and one of the core responsibilities of CropLife Ethiopia is to ensure that its member companies continue with the commitment to avail their staff for the training of 300 SSPs and 150 KPAs.

By closely working with the project team of SNV, training programs started to be rolled out as per the workplan, by trainers from CropLife Ethiopia and member companies in the project regions. In February 2020, four trainings were planned and executed in the Amhara region at two sites where a total of 55 SSPs/KPAs successfully graduated after an intensive four days training. SNV fully equipped the SSPs and KPAs with the required PPE, knapsack sprayers, record logbook and technical manual.

The SNV training will continue on 16 March 2020 in the Tigray region where 36 SSPs/KPAs will be trained. Coincidently, CropLife Ethiopia is also running an awareness creation exercise in 4 regions and 11 woredas under the USAID funded, Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activities (FTFE-VCA) project. Areas to be followed will be by the selection of SSPs, training, provision of equipment, monitoring and evaluation activities. CropLife Ethiopia is the project subcontractor whereby an additional 165 SSPs will join the network in the country.

It is the vision and commitment of CropLife Ethiopia to continue serving the smallholder farming communities by encouraging them to engage in the safe and responsible use of improved inputs with due diligence to human health and environmental safety.

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CropLife Cote d’Ivoire Meets with the Director of Plant Protection Directorate

A delegation from the Plant Protection Directorate (DPVCQ) met with the Executive Committee of CropLife Cote d’Ivoire (CI) on the 26th February to exchange on joint cooperation. The delegation of DPVCQ headed by the Director, Dr. Koffi Adjoumani, who took office earlier this year, comprised of two Deputy-Directors and the Officer in charge of Phytosanitary Agreements.

The delegation from CropLife Cote d’Ivoire comprised the President Guy Liabra, the Vice-President, the Executive Director and the Executive Secretary. The meeting took place at the offices of CropLife CI.

Guy Liabra, President of CropLife CI welcomed the delegation of DPVCQ, then provided a brief on the support by the CropLife CI to the DPVCQ and the joint activities initiated and carried out during the past two years. These activities cover the training of retailers and applicators seeking certification by the DPVCQ, the SSP program, the capacity enhancement on regulatory issues and the contribution to the GEF-WB obsolete pesticides project.

This project provided an opportunity to strengthen the fight against the illicit trade of pesticides. The DPVCQ and CropLife CI have the opportunity to engage on many awareness raising programs and training workshops for the enforcement agencies and other key stakeholders through the departmental committees to fight illegal pesticides across the country.

The Director of DPVCQ thanked CropLife CI for the excellent support provided over the years and committed to provide an enabling environment to strengthen such a long-lasting cooperation in line of the public-private partnership. In this regard DPVCQ and CropLife CI will organize frequent meetings in order to formally handle any issue the pesticides industry may face.

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ECOWAS Regional Agri-inputs Strategy

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is leading an initiative on behalf of the three regional economic communities (RECs) namely ECOWAS, WAEMU and CILSS. The initiative is aimed at increasing the sustainable availability, accessibility and use of agri-inputs for crop production, livestock and aquaculture across the sub-region.

The initiative benefits from the support of technical and financial partners such as USAID, the World Bank, and AfDB together with some regional institutions and organizations among which are IFDC, FAO, Rural Hub, Africa Rice, and AGRA. The West and Central African Council for Research and Development (WECARD/ CORAF) was assigned the formulation of the strategy which was discussed during a 3-day workshop on February 06-08 in Abuja, Nigeria. CropLife AME participated in the workshop together with more than 40 other delegates representing the 3 RECs, the above-mentioned funding partners, technical institutions and AFSTA the seed trade association and ROPPA the apex producers’ organization.

The workshop discussed the draft strategy and made recommendations on the Logical Framework, the Strategic Plan and Operational Plan for 2021-2025 and the Implementing Coordination Unit.

A Task Force will be responsible for implementing the strategy of which CropLife AME will be a member together with the RECs, the member states, the technical and financial partners (USAID, WB and AfDB), regional institutions, and producers’ organizations. A workshop is planned for the first week of April in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, for the adoption of the strategy by the member states, with the participation of CropLife AME

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