FAO Project aims to promote sound use of Soviet-era pesticides in the Central Asia

FAO Project aims to promote sound use of Soviet-era pesticides in the Central Asia

It is estimated that about half of the world’s obsolete pesticides can be found in the former Soviet Union, with many of them stored throughout Central Asia. CA-NEWS reports it citing to the accession of experts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Why Central Asia? As an important centre for agriculture, particularly cotton production, the subregion called Central Asia was a heavy user of pesticides. As it is known, the price of cotton at all times was comparable to the price of gold.

What remain are inappropriate burial sites, regulatory and management deficits, and other issues.

A one-day workshop held in Bishkek is part of a wider FAO effort to help overcome these shortcomings. The project on lifecycle management of pesticides and disposal of persistent organic pollutants is supported by the Global Environment Facility.

“When we refer to pest and pesticide management, we are not only speaking of crop production or productivity, but we are also speaking of how pests and pesticides impact small farmers, markets, trade and natural resources,” said Tania Santivanez, FAO agricultural officer.

According to the officer, “this means the impact on the whole food system, affecting the availability of and access to healthy food.” Specifically, Santivanez said, 900 metric tonnes of pollutants and obsolete pesticides should be destroyed safely, and pesticide-contaminated sites should be remediated.

Partners from governments and the private and civil sectors will be involved in carrying out the work.

Turkmenistan was one of the main states of the Central Asian region, providing the needs of the former USSR in cotton. The solution to the problem of using pesticides in cotton production here was found in the man-made Turkmen Lake Altyn Asyr that was built in the center of the Karakum desert, the first phase of which was launched in 2009.

It represents the creation of a unified system of collectors for the purposeful collection of drainage water from irrigated lands in all regions of the country and diverting them to the giant natural depression of Garashor in north-western Turkmenistan.

The idea is to use the adsorbing, filtering properties of sand, aqua plants in order to reduce the level of harmful substances in the water and re-use low-mineralized water for agricultural and industrial purposes.

Recent data confirms that scientists’ hopes for the filtering properties of the desert have been proved. Now an oasis with swimming birds has formed here, while there is a fish in the lake. The water can also be used on lands that are resistant to salinization, and the work can be intensified to develop fisheries, animal breeding, and crop production in areas adjacent to the Altyn Asyr Lake.

The collector-drainage discharges formed within other regions previously accumulated in the lowlands of Karakum sands, flooding and, among other things, reducing the desert pastures and negatively affecting the environment.