Capacity assessment of laboratories in pesticide residue analysis
The assignment was carried out as part of ORGUT’s subcontract with Chemonics International within the USAID/Sida project –FARMA in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The purpose of USAID/Sida FARMA is to provide technical assistance in agricultural sub-sectors through demand driven assistance aimed at improved competitiveness of agricultural products. USAID/Sida FARMA is a development project jointly funded by USAID and Sida and implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina. USAID/Sida FARMA is to expand environmentally sustainable production, processing, and sales of value-added agricultural products. The expected result of FARMA is contribution to poverty reduction. USAID/Sida FARMA is implemented by Chemonics International with ORGUT as a subcontractor. ORGUT provides consulting services aiming at increasing agricultural competitiveness, meeting EU accession standards, reducing poverty by expanding environmentally sustainable production, and increasing sales, exports, and employment. USAID/Sida FARMA’s approach focuses on four integrated components: Building sustainable market linkages for producers; Increasing access to finance; Building the capacity of producer organisations’ and other counterparts; and Enhancing the policy environment to benefit competitiveness of agricultural goods. In order to attain project goals, USAID/ Sida FARMA uses various tools, including a Development Fund and Partners Fund for targeted subcontracts to local partners.
Absence of EU-compliant food safety institutions and an EU-compliant regulatory framework prevent the BiH agri-food sector from reaching its potential. These institutional issues affect BiH producers interested to export their products to the EU even if they meet the standards in their business operation. As the EU has introduced more stringent requirement for pesticide residues this could affect EU market opportunities for producers from third countries i.e. the sale of fresh fruit and vegetables from BiH to the EU. Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 establishes the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of pesticides permitted in products of plant or animal origin intended for human or animal consumption.
In November 2012, on the recommendation of the BiH Food Safety Agency (FSA), the BiH Council of Ministers adopted the “Regulation on pesticide MRLs on products of plant and animal origin”. The regulation defines the upper legal levels of a concentration for pesticide residues in or on food or feed, to ensure the lowest possible consumer exposure to pesticide residues.
FARMA intend to support establishment of first BiH monitoring program in the food safety area with a focus on pesticides. FSA is the responsible institution for developing and implementing the (multi)annual monitoring program for pesticide residues. It is not clear at this stage if BiH laboratories have the capacities to perform such analysis. Assessment of existing food control laboratories was conducted by the IPA 2007 project “Support to implementation and enforcement of BiH Food Legislation” (Laboratory Network Status Quo Analysis). The national food safety control system is based on the activity of 49 laboratories that undertake testing in relation to food/feed and/or water safety and located throughout BiH. Additional assessments (primarily based on questionnaires) by an EU-funded “Support to the BiH Plant Health Administration” project as well as the BiH Plant Health Administration, determined that there are currently 7 laboratories that possess equipment suitable for pesticide residue analysis and have experience in the analytical methodology for pesticide residues in products of plant origin. These are:
- Federal Institute for Agriculture, Sarajevo
- Federal Institute for Public Health, Sarajevo
- Agro- Mediterranean Institute, Mostar
- Federal Institute for Public Health, Mostar
- RS Agricultural Institute, Banja Luka
- Institute for Public Health, Banja Luka
- Agricultural Institute of the Una-Sana Canton, Bihać
Following several meetings with the FSA, PHA and the EU-funded “Support to the BiH Plant Health Administration” Project, it was determined that a more detailed assessment of laboratories is required to determine the capacities to conduct tests on pesticide residues.