Responsible Use

  • CropLife International, along with its regional and national associations and leading companies, has promoted programs providing training in responsible use of crop protection products for more than 20 years.
  • Training is given in the context of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy.
  • A participatory approach has been adopted, with an emphasis on training-of-trainers and working in partnership with other stakeholders.
  • A number of guidelines and web-based training materials have been produced.
  • CropLife International supports programs that typically train around 500,000 individuals each year, up to 8% of whom are trainers. Companies train many more.
  • Messages in responsible use of crop protection products reach many millions each year through various media campaigns.

The plant science industry is committed to promoting practices that encourage the responsible, safe and efficient use of its products. This is undertaken within the context of promoting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy, and forms an important part of the industry’s life-cycle approach to product stewardship.

There are two new manuals for use of the network: the Responsible Use Manual and the Retailer Manual.

Training Through Local Partnerships

The global CropLife network has built local partnerships around the world to help train farmers in responsible use of crop protection products. Check out two of our flagship programs by following the links below.

  • Cocoa in West Africa

In 2013 CropLife Africa Middle East entered into a two-year partnership with the World Cocoa Foundation to train professional Spray Service Providers in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. See what the farmers have to say about the project, click here.

In 2009, CropLife International, CropLife Asia and CropLife India partnered with two local organizations in the Adoni region of Andhra Pradesh, India, to provide training on Integrated Pest Management (IPM), responsible use and the secure storage of crop protection products. Click here to read more about it on our dedicated website.

Safe Use Initiative

There is a long history of industry-funded activities supporting the responsible use of crop protection products throughout the world. These formed a base for the launch in 1991 of CropLife International’s Safe Use Initiative – three pilot projects to provide training and education for all users and handlers of crop protection products. These projects were originally established in Guatemala, Kenya and Thailand, but have now been expanded over three phases to include many countries in the regions; details of the program are given below. Currently, training activities are being carried out by national associations in more than 50 countries, often in partnership with other stakeholders.

Pilot Projects

The idea of the pilot projects was conceived in light of the importance that industry put on the Food and Agricultural Organization’s The International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management. The plant science industry hoped that key stakeholders in the global food chain would welcome the projects and appreciate their value.

This indeed has become a reality with many national and international organizations, government agencies, donors, aid agencies, NGOs etc., lending their support in many different forms. Since their establishment, all three projects operate in a transparent and open fashion, involving local people, particularly farmers.

Safe Use Initiative – Goals and Objectives

The overall objectives of the three Safe Use Initiative projects are:

  • to effect sustainable change in the culture of the people such that there is a significant and measurable improvement in meeting the latest international safety standards
  • to draw attention to the need for joint action by the public and private sectors
  • to act as pilot programs to stimulate other organizations to develop similar initiatives in other regions/countries

Safe Use Initiative – Making Progress on the Ground

Progress in the projects falls into distinct phases:

  • Phase I (Implementation) 1991-1994
  • Phase II (Extension) 1995-1997
  • Phase III (Sustainability) 1998-2000

The activities are summarized below. The programs have been reviewed and lessons learnt incorporated into further training programs.


The base-line audit in Guatemala revealed particular weaknesses in safety at farmer and retailer level. While training and education have remained the core activities, the team initially focused on critical areas within the country, namely small vegetable growers. Similar programs are now in place in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru.

Highlights from the Guatemala program include:

  • project receiving strong, active support from the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Education
  • local government extension officers participating and committed to project
  • successful children’s “Scarecrow program”
  • retailers receiving accreditation certification
  • universities participating in training and having multiplier effect

Further information on Responsible Use Programs and other activities in Latin America, can be viewed on CropLife Latin America’s website


The audit revealed that the following interventions were necessary:

  • improving standards in formulation plants
  • training and accrediting industry sales personnel
  • improving registration legislation and enforcement
  • training farmers, horticultural exporters and retailers
  • setting up an accreditation scheme for retailers
  • establishing poison information and treatment centers
  • improving labeling and the effectiveness of pictograms
  • educating school children on the potential hazards

More farmers and retailers have now been trained and the relationship with government, media, NGOs and local industry has continued to blossom. Demand from horticultural exporters for training/retraining is now widespread because the project is seen as the best way to satisfy customers that “Good Agriculture Practices” are being followed. The approach has been adopted by other countries in the region, albeit at a slower rate than in the other two regions.

Highlights from Kenya include:

  • a radio series which became the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation’s most successful program in its 40 year history
  • strong support from Kenyan Government and National Industry Association
  • Kenyan women designed their own protective clothing
  • primary schools used plays and songs to get safety messages through
  • the largest single mass-training project ever put into effect on the African continent
  • horticultural exporters involved in training programs
  • major improvement in product labeling and legislation enforcement achieved
  • distributor accreditation in place and sales representatives registration scheme operational

Further information on responsible use projects and other activities in Africa and the Middle East can be viewed on CropLife Africa Middle East’s website


The survey in Thailand identified particular problems in the re-use of empty containers and a need for considerable improvement in the premises of local formulators and retailers. Project objectives were defined as follows:

  • to lessen the number and severity of crop protection product incidents and to instill an ethic of responsible use of these products among all stakeholders
  • to promote a positive perception of the plant science industry by demonstrating its concern and actions to promote correct and responsible use of its products.

Many other countries in the Asia Pacific region have well-established responsible use initiatives driven by the national industry associations or companies. Highlights from Thailand include:

  • farmer training methods have improved steadily over the years
  • retailer training is recognized by senior Thai government officials as the best way to provide farmers with repeat messages on safety
  • the Thai Crop Protection Association developed an industry standards checklist for structure of facilities, location, storage, package, labeling, employee safety, transportation and disposal
  • successful standard raising AAA (Award, Accreditation, Advice) scheme
  • by bringing together government officials and foreign expertise, the project demonstrated its ability to aid technology transfer to the benefit of growers and crop protection product buyers, and to the environment
  • strong support from the Royal Thai government; bright colorful and entertaining comics and notebooks for school children put over a serious message in an interesting way

Further information on responsible use projects and other activities in Asia Pacific can be viewed on CropLife Asia’s website

Publications on the three Safe Use Initiative Projects are available from CropLife International. Also, more case studies from around the world are available here.

Responsible Use of Crop Protection Products – Current Activities

Training activities in approximately 50 countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America are supported by CropLife International each year. Typically, around 300,000 individuals receive training each year and, significantly, of these around 8% will go on to train others (see chart below). Although national associations determine the training requirements in their countries, there is global guidance to place emphasis on training-of-trainer programs.


Training in responsible use is not confined to developing countries. Recognizing problems that were occurring in the high-intensity vegetable growing in greenhouses in southern Europe, CropLife International’s European association, ECPA, initiated a Safe Use program in Spain in 2002. This has now been expanded to 15 countries in Europe. In the USA, training and certification of users of crop protection products is carried out by government agencies and universities. This approach is supported by CropLife America as part of its overall promotion of product stewardship.

Training programs emphasize a participatory approach, which leads to behavioral change and partnership with other stakeholders to increase impact and outreach. These programs are supported by a number of training guidelines, including a web-based program,, with freely downloadable material. Additionally, many millions of people receive responsible use messages through media such as television and radio programs, newspaper and magazines. These include innovations such as farming “soap operas.” Currently available training manuals and guidelines are listed below. Pictures from the guidelines can be obtained from CropLife International ( and can be used to make local training materials.

Responsible Use of Crop Protection Products – The Future

The responsible and effective use of crop protection products continues to be an issue that is extremely important to the industry. CropLife International will continue to support training activities on the responsible use of crop protection products, within the framework of an Integrated Pest Management strategy. We recognize, however, that it is not possible for one group alone to reach all farmers and stakeholders and that training and extension programs need to be undertaken in partnership with others and be aimed at achieving sustainable changes in behavior. Collaboration with governments and their agencies, national and international organizations, NGOs, donor agencies, the agricultural distribution chain, to name but a few, is vital to the future successes in improving impact and outreach.