Jean-Charles Bocquet

Jean-Charles Bocquet

The Mediterranean region produces a significant share of Europe’s favourite fresh fruits and vegetables, but it is also an area where climatic conditions pose specific challenges to farmers. Firstly, because of the abundance of pests and diseases resulting from the climate, crops may need treatment with crop protection products to successfully protect harvests. Secondly, because of the climate, growers sometimes unintentionally disregard labeled instructions on protective clothing due to the heat in which they work.

In order to address these issues the European Crop Protection Association set up a dedicated project – the Safe and Sustainable Use Initiative (SUI) – that originally started off in the heart of the Mediterranean’s greenhouse production hotbed of Almeria.

In its first ten years the SUI has seen significant uptake, and the impact of the initiative’s easy-to-apply recommendations has been excellent. Today, the SUI is running beyond the Mediterranean and is established in 17 countries, with plans afoot to share the initiative’s principles and best practices with all EU member states. The sui raises awareness with high quality training materials for industry, trainers, advisors and farmers, including videos, best practice manuals, instructional posters and television and radio spots.

The SUI accommodates local crop and cultural requirements as well as national legislation; close collaboration with national experts ensures that the SUI’s principles and guidelines remain effective at member state level.

The industry’s goal is to find common ground on the sustainable use of pesticides and achieve solutions that are economically, environmentally and socially acceptable. In fact, the SUI is fully in-line with the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The alliances formed by the SUI serve to integrate expertise and coordinate approaches with a wide range of stakeholders, ultimately benefiting the food chain as a whole.

To ensure a broad reach of the best safe and sustainable use practices, local authorities have endorsed many of our materials through the National Action Plans (NAP) as required by the Sustainable Use Directive; here, cooperation with stakeholders and partners is key to reaching as many farmers as possible. Today we see that some of the recommendations given by the SUI project have been taken up nearly threefold by pesticide users in a relatively short amount of time, increasing protection of human and environmental health.

SUI is part of our Hungry for Change initiative, a commitment of the ecpa network to implement projects which aim to respect water, health, biodiversity while producing food in a sustainable way.