There is a need for strengthened enforcement and vigilance on borders to ensure the banned pesticides are not smuggled into the country, experts have said. The call is in line with implementing Rotterdam convention, a multilateral treaty, adopted in 1998 and became effective in 2004, to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. The convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans. Signatory nations can decide whether to allow or ban the importation of chemicals listed in the treaty, and exporting countries are obliged to make sure that producers within their jurisdiction comply. Since the date of ratification, Rwanda informed the convention secretariat of the final decision taken against the trans-boundary movement of different pesticides and industrial chemicals. In addition to the import responses submitted, during this year, Rwanda adopted a ministerial order banning 87 pesticides and industrial chemicals. Henceforth, 30 of them were submitted to the Rotterdam Secretariat through import responses as provided for by the article 10 of the convention. Evariste Safari, the Head of Rwanda Agriculture Inputs Dealers Association (RAIDA), and Chairman of the Board of Agro-chemical Advisory Council Members told Doing Business that despite the ban, some pesticides might be still being smuggled into the country. “There is a law that regulates agro-chemicals that are imported in Rwanda. However, there are still some challenges. Therefore training is necessary especially to build capacity for ensuring better licensing and control of agro-chemicals on local market. The issue of banned and expired pesticides and other agro-chemicals should be jointly addressed,” he said. Lack of proper disposal He said that there is a need for proper collection and disposal of such chemicals which are not properly done as there are no collection centres across the country. “Some dealers are still smuggling such banned agro-chemicals and others trade expired chemicals,” he said. Safari said that the banned and expired agro-chemicals pose to the environment calling for urgent joint interventions. “Dealers must comply with import permits,” he said, adding that farmers and dealers, especially those neighboring borders, smuggle some banned agro-chemicals despite a decrease in such cases. Beata Akimpaye, Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Division Manager at Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) reiterated that there is still a challenge related to disposal of hazardous waste including banned agro-chemicals. “We are collaborating with the agriculture ministry and Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority to ensure banned pesticides are not smuggled and traded on the local market. We do joint inspections with the Rwanda Investigation Bureau and other institutions to discover dealers who trade such banned agro-chemicals,” she said. She added that lack of collection centres of such expired and banned agro-chemicals is still a challenge in environmental protection. “We are still working on how there can be collection centres countrywide in all provinces so that we are able to dispose and handle such chemicals we confiscate from dealers during our inspections,” she said. Need for capacity building According to REMA, training is being carried out to ensure better management of hazardous chemicals. Recently members of Chemical Based Conventions National Steering Committee from government institutions, private sector and non-governmental organizations that have a role in the implementation of Rotterdam Convention were trained on Lifecyle management of chemicals and Notifications. The training, Akimpaye said, was aimed to strengthen the capacity of Parties to assess and manage risks, prepare and communicate import responses and take decisions on final regulatory actions for chemicals that are listed under the Rotterdam Convention in accordance with the prior informed consent procedure. It also aimed to raise awareness on hazardous chemicals and also facilitate the development of frameworks and implementation plans for chemicals management, provide tools and approaches for Parties to use to apply precaution in industrial and pesticide chemicals management. “We can make it by joining hands as global community throughout the ratification, accession of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and put emphasis on their implementation as it is the core solution to save our lives and biodiversity from diverse impacts resulting from the poor management of pesticide and industrial chemicals,” Racheal Tushabe, the Director of Advocacy and Multilateral Environmental Agreements Monitoring at REMA said. According to Thabo Moroba, an expert, from Africa Institute for the Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous and other wastes (AIMHW), capacity building is looking at main provisions of Rotterdam convention, status regarding submissions, key obligations under the convention with focus on the role of National Coordination and Cooperation for sound chemicals management. “On the Rotterdam convention specifically for Rwanda, it is clear that Rwanda was behind in terms of submitting its import responses to the secretariat. It was also very clear that Designated National Authority in the country needs support from other relevant institutions in order to be able to gather information for better management of chemicals,” he said. He noted that hazardous chemicals including pesticides could pose dangers to health if no better management. He added,” pesticides by nature are hazardous chemicals. They can also potentially kill human beings. The challenge we have in many African countries is that we have weak registration to protect our people. Our people do not have the capacity many times, especially our farming community to understand the safety from chemicals,” he noted, adding the banned agro-chemicals are illegally entering through porous borders. Besides Rotterdam convention, the Basel Convention was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992 as an international treaty to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is another international environmental treaty, signed on 22 May 2001 in Stockholm and effective from 17 May 2004.