loading

Revolution in Agriculture: Eliminating Methyl Bromide under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer - UNIDO's Experience

Place: Not Applicable, _NO_MAIN_REGION
Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products
Total Budget: € 69.526.671,00 | Period: From January 1996 To

Summary

Methyl bromide (MBr) is a colorless, nonflammable and highly toxic gas and a broad spectrum pesticide with applications in the control of pest insects, nematodes, weeds, pathogens and rodents. In agriculture, methyl bromide is primarily used for soil fumigation, as well as for commodity and quarantine treatment. It is also a significant ozone-depleting substance; therefore it is one of the listed substances under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Since 1996 the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has been a driving force behind methyl bromide phase-out projects in developing countries. As such, UNIDO has introduced alternative technologies for soil and commodities fumigation, trained farmers and conducted demonstration projects and awareness raising campaigns in almost 60 countries.
 

Partnership

Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters of Morocco - Morocco

Initiative partner

Since its foundation, 24 February 1994, the Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters (APEFEL) has represented a turning point within the fruit and vegetable sector, thanks to the emergence of a new approach in agricultural unionism, essentially based on a thorough analysis of the sector’s constraints and also on its high capability to produce ideas and to propose solutions. • The APEFEL represents its members and defends their interests before their partners: administrations, banks, as well as national and international organisms. The association works for the implementation of a rational organization and for the design of the best strategy for this sector, not only in the production, but also in the packaging, the logistics and the commercialization of products at national and international levels. • The association represents producers and producers-exporters responsible for the 70% of total fruit and vegetable exports. It is constantly attracting new investors within this sector, given its dynamism and its services. Since its foundation, APEFEL has a track record in many achievements. Given its significant efforts at every economic and social level for the last 20 years, and given its aim at pushing towards a solid and more efficient sector, the association has overcome all its constraints and the situation of its members has improved. Among its main tasks, APEFEL has an active role in the negotiations with the European Union and the United States of America, and it demonstrates a strong involvement every time the national exports are threatened. The association also cooperates with international organizations, such as UNIDO for the implementation of a project on the phase-out of methyl bromide in tomato production, under the Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer. Within this project, the Transfer and Technology Center was created.

Centre of Competence for the Innovation in the Agro-Environmental Sector, University of Torino - Italy

Initiative partner

Established at the University of Torino in 2002, the Centre of Competence for the innovation in the agro-environmental field carries out basic and applied research, knowledge and technology transfer, life-long learning and communication on up-to-date topics in the agro-environmental and agro-food sectors. It has several national and international collaborations, with public Institutions and the private sector. The Centre possesses extensive facilities including laboratories, experimental fields and greenhouses and hosts two National Certified laboratories, one for testing agrochemicals efficacy, the second for Diagnostics of plant pathogens. AGROINNOVA engaged in cooperation with UNIDO in the context of the total phase-out of MBr in China. As being done in Romania under a similar project, UNIDO and AGROINNOVA experts collaborated with China in phasing-out the use of MBr for soil fumigation in the horticultural sector. The first actions targeted the strawberry sector, where mature MBr alternatives were already available. In respect of tomatoes and other vegetables, the focus was on the use of grafted plant on resistant rootstocks.

Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol - Canada

Initiative partner

The Fund is dedicated to reversing the deterioration of the Earth's ozone layer. It was established in 1991 to assist developing countries meet their Montreal Protocol commitments. It is managed by an Executive Committee with equal membership from developed and developing countries. The Fund Secretariat in Montreal assists the Committee in this task. Since 1991, the Fund has approved activities including industrial conversion, technical assistance, training and capacity building worth over US $3.0 billion. The Multilateral Fund was established by a decision of the Second Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (London, June 1990) and began its operation in 1991. The main objective of the Fund is to assist developing country parties to the Montreal Protocol to comply with the control measures of the Protocol. Currently, 148 of the 197 Parties to the Montreal Protocol are provided with certain assistance to meet these criteria. The work the Multilateral Fund finances on the ground in developing countries is carried out by four implementing agencies, which have contractual agreements with the Executive Committee: the United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the World Bank. UNIDO became an implementing agency of the Multilateral Fund in 1992 and its Montreal Protocol Programme supports industry in using ozone- and climate- friendly substances in six specific sectors: refrigeration and air-conditioning, foams for insulation and cushioning, fire protection, solvents, fumigants, and aerosols. In each of these areas, the Montreal Protocol Programme seeks cost-effective ways of reducing the use of ODS and, thus, its projects contribute to the introduction of new, clean and up-to-date technologies; the upgrade of production lines with brand new equipment, and the dissemination of adequate training on technology and industrial safety, including human health aspects. It also provides technical assistance for governmental institutions to strengthen regulatory frameworks and monitoring of ODS consumption, as well as public awareness activities and training for centres handling these controlled substances. UNIDO’s performance is continuously highly rated by the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund and the Organization has been ranked as one of the top implementing agencies since 2001.

For decades, an ozone-depleting substance (ODS) called methyl bromide (MBr) was used in the culture of many crops as the main fumigant around the world to rid the soil of pests, diseases and weeds. Eliminating the use of MBr in developing countries has been a great challenge, but at the same time created an opportunity to promote innovative and non-chemical alternatives. By initiating the transition towards sustainable resource management, UNIDO has been instrumental in phasing-out MBr. In partnership with local governments and institutions, UNIDO brought the benefits of environmentally friendly alternatives to growers in sectors, such as tomato, strawberry, pepper and melon, thus guaranteeing the supply of important foods in terms of quality and quantity. Through the adoption of new technologies, these growers developed successful disease and pest management programs that are not only independent from MBr and other soil fumigants, but also efficient and sustainable in the long term.

UNIDO’s program to phase-out MBr led to a revolution in the horticulture sector. Since MBr is an effective fumigant and pesticide, growers were strongly dependent on its use, which meant that finding an alternative required a significant effort in adapting existing alternatives and creating new solutions for different circumstances.
Since there is no one-to-one alternative to MBr, changes in production strategies, process management and infrastructure were necessary.  The technical, economic and commercial feasibility of alternatives have been also tested. Practices such as non-soil cultivation and optimal use of soil fumigants in combination with integrated pest management were implemented throughout the developing world leading to an innovative take on sustainable resource management. Since the majority of farmers adopted continuous monocultures and employed soil disinfestations practices, this represented a groundbreaking change as alternatives introduced were mainly chemical-free.
 

Soilless culture in Turkey Soilless culture was trialed in Turkey aiming the replacement of 469t of MBr. The trials confirmed that soilless production was a viable alternative for tomatoes, and peppers, however, they also showed that due to high levels of expertise needed to make this system work, this option was best suited for more advanced growers, generally geared towards the export market. In particular, cherry tomato producers were able to successfully adopt this option.
Soilless culture in Turkey Soilless culture was trialed in Turkey aiming the replacement of 469t of MBr. The trials confirmed that soilless production was a viable alternative for tomatoes, and peppers, however, they also showed that due to high levels of expertise needed to make this system work, this option was best suited for more advanced growers, generally geared towards the export market. In particular, cherry tomato producers were able to successfully adopt this option.

Through the ratification of the Montreal Protocol (MP), all countries in the world agreed with phase-out deadlines of several ODSs, including MBr. UNIDO, as one of the implementing agencies of the MP, has taken the lead in assisting countries in complying with these phase-out deadlines. The year 2015 marks the final date for developing countries to phase-out this substance.
Besides being harmful to the ozone layer, MBr is extremely toxic, acting as a broad-spectrum biocide that kills most living organisms exposed to it. Direct exposure may cause several negative health effects in humans. Sectors using MBr were diverse, but mostly consisted of vegetables, bananas, strawberries and flowers.
Without assistance, producers from all around the developing world would have most likely gone bankrupt, stopped production, or used MBr illegally, thus jeopardizing worldwide food security. That is why assistance was greatly needed in order to migrate to different and more sustainable technologies.
 

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf How "green" are your tomatoes? Awareness raising leaflet published by UNIDO in 2012 on the occassion of the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the 20th anniversary on UNIDO being an implementing agency.
../file-system/small/ppt ../file-system/small/ppt Training presentation to melon producers in Guatemala (extracts) For many decades, MBr was used as a fumigant, mainly as a pre-plant treatment to get rid of pests, diseases and weeds that, if left unchecked, can cause severe losses to high value crops like strawberries, tomatoes, flowers, peppers and melons.

From an environmental perspective, UNIDO’s program contributed significantly to the protection of the ozone layer. Moreover, most of the alternative technologies introduced were chemical-free, having a positive impact also on human health.
From the perspective of food security, the supply of various crops essential for human diet was guaranteed, while ensuring proper quality and quantity.
58 developing countries complied with the phase-out targets of the MP.
Farmers also benefitted: not only were they able to survive the transition away from MBr, they also got the opportunity to migrate to different and more sustainable crop and soil management practices.
In most cases, growers could:

  • Decrease costs of chemicals, maintain/increase yield and revenue;
  • Maintain/increase quality of crops;
  • Become more competitive in international markets, which increasingly require products grown within environment-friendly standards;
  • Acquire experience in diverse crop and soil management techniques.
     
Elimination of methyl bromide in Morocco Soilless production has also been trialled in Morocco through the MBr alternatives project implemented by UNIDO and it proved to be a feasible alternative for growers in the region of Souss Massa with the required technical expertise. A slight increase in yield and a significant improvement in quality were obtained when growing tomato on coco fibre substrate, in comparison to traditional production in ground beds.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf The elimination of MBr in Morocco UNIDO and Morocco celebrated together the complete elimination of MBr in the country on 16 September 2013, which is also the international day for the preservation of the ozone layer. The attached leaflet was published as part of the information sharing/awareness raising materials prepared by UNIDO on this occasion.

Farmers in general (small and large production scales) greatly benefitted from the program as it went beyond the replacement of chemicals: it helped them learn, grow and prosper.
UNIDO worked in many instances with farmers and exporters associations to disseminate good practices and assist stakeholders.
Their need to find a tailored solution to each of their circumstances (climate, type of crop, economic situation and type of labor employed) without compromising the yield was met as UNIDO strived to adapt and find individual solutions for particular cases in developing countries.
Through the successful adoption of novel technologies such as vegetable grafting in Mexico, bio-control agents in Honduras, soilless systems in Turkey or compost technology in Morocco, these growers have developed successful disease and pest management programs that are not reliant on MBr or other soil fumigants, and which are proving to be equally efficient and sustainable in the long term.
 

More competitiveness through the elimination of methyl bromide in Morocco Tomato is one of the most important crops in Morocco and a significant source of export earnings with half of total production being sold to foreign, mainly to European, food chains. By phasing-out MBr, with the assistance of UNIDO, according to the European Union’s deadline, Morocco secured its tomato exports and the work of numerous tomato growers.
Successful cooperation with agricultural associations in Morocco This film shows us the UNIDO supported "Growers' Association Project", which supports farmers in Morocco with new, MBr-free and environmentally-friendly technologies and alternative growing techniques.

This program would not have been successful without the support of people from different organizations, both on the field and inside negotiation rooms. While the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the MP and other bilateral donors funded the initiative, UNIDO made sure experts in the field of agriculture and environmental management were involved in the administration and monitoring of projects in the field.
The hiring of renowned local and international experts in the field of pest management was also essential for the success of the program. Researchers in universities also had a major role in finding alternative technologies.
Most importantly, the active support of local authorities, particularly the National Ozone Units, governments, as well as concerned farmers and associations was indispensable for the proper functioning and execution of UNIDO’s MBr program.

Phasing-out methyl bromide in Guatemala The workshop was organized by UNIDO in cooperation with the National Ozone Unit for national stakeholders involved in the phase-out of MBr in the melon producing sector. The successful new melon producing techniques introduced first in Honduras, later served for valuable information exchange with other melon growers in the region, such as Guatemala and Costa Rica.

UNIDO helped developing countries to achieve the 2015 deadline ahead of time, but it was not easy. Since changes in production strategies were necessary, reticence and skepticism from the part of growers and other stakeholders were often encountered. This was reflected in:

  • Fear of increase in cost with the introduction of alternatives;
  • Low confidence in the efficacy of alternatives;
  • Insufficient technology transfer between researchers and farmers.

UNIDO tried to overcome these obstacles by disseminating alternatives tested in many countries and by providing information on the costs of alternatives.
Moreover, MBr remains in use in several countries under the broad exemptions granted for critical agricultural uses and for quarantine and pre-shipment applications. Many developing countries will use these exemptions starting in 2015, sometimes even illegally. UNIDO will support governments to issue and enforce regulations on controlled uses and tests alternatives.

Methyl bromide is like dynamite to your health! Convincing growers and farmers not to use MBr was not always an easy task in Turkey, so a creative awareness raising campaign was part of the national strategy.

UNIDO’s program to phase-out MBr has eliminated approximately 11,000 tons of MBr, which is equivalent to more than 6,500 tons of ozone-depleting potential (ODP). This translates into nearly 70% of all activities to phase-out MBr in the developing world under the MP.
Besides that, the use of MBr was largely connected to monocultures, where crop rotation is rarely adopted, affecting crops both in quantity and quality, thus making necessary the adoption of soil disinfestations practices. Alternative practices introduced by UNIDO pushed for more sustainable crop practices, including crop rotation, grafting and composting, which have an enormous impact on the soil, biodiversity, and ecosystem.

Introduction of the new compost management methods in Morocco In order to develop reliable, non-chemical soil pest management options, UNIDO set up a composting pilot unit in Agadir in cooperation with APEFEL (Association of Fruit and Vegetable Growers and Exporters) and AGRINEWTECH. This option provided an excellent solution to the big amounts of organic waste generated by horticulture, turning waste into a natural fertilizer that is rich in antagonists, and which became a valuable input for enhancing the sustainability of agro-industry sectors involved.

UNIDO, together with partners, has implemented over 200 MBr projects (ranging from technical assistance to demonstration projects) in 58 different countries. Developing best practices in all those countries has proven that the program is sustainable and that alternatives can be learned and transferred from country to country, when appropriately adapted to different circumstances. The model employed by UNIDO is duplicable because it is mostly based on economical and viable solutions. Proof of this is the fact that:

  • As of 2015, farmers are officially no longer relying on MBr;
  • The supply of crops which relied on MBr has not decreased. Instead, it was able to respond to the increasing global demand.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Biofumigation and compost technologies in Zambia The Republic of Zambia initiated in 2008 the total phase-out of methyl bromide with the assistance of UNIDO. Biofumigation, the introduction of compost technologies and solarization were all parts of UNIDO’s strategy to support the country to be in line with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol and phase-out MBr completely by 2015.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Solarization in Zambia The Republic of Zambia initiated in 2008 the total phase-out of methyl bromide with the assistance of UNIDO. Biofumigation, the introduction of compost technologies and solarization were all parts of UNIDO’s strategy to support the country to be in line with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol and phase-out MBr completely by 2015.

Besides promoting several fora such as conferences, meetings and workshops on the sustainable alternative practices surrounding the topic of MBr, UNIDO has also published the brochures, the publications and videos attached, presenting the greatest results and main achievements of the program. The dissemination and awareness raising activities at local level are always carried out in cooperation with trade associations, training centers and primarily with the National Ozone Units. The Technology Transfer Center (TTC) in Agadir, Morocco is a great example of dissemination at local level. TTC was established to allow farmers see technologies for pest management at work and learn how to use them. The Center not only helps in promoting new non-chemical technologies for crop production to growers but also works in the field of applied research.

Use alternatives to methyl bromide! Convincing growers and farmers not to use MBr was not always an easy task in Turkey, so a creative awareness raising campaign was part of the national strategy. Further publications in Turkish language: http://www.batem.gov.tr/yeni/yayinlar/kitaplar.php
MBr phase-out in Turkey with the assistance of UNIDO The horticulture sector is of high importance in Turkey, not only because of the large domestic consumption but also due to exports. UNIDO started the implementation of the methyl bromide phase-out project in 1996 and completed with huge success in 2009. The key to the successful implementation was, among other factors, the fruitful cooperation with Batı Akdeniz Agricultural Research Institute (BATEM), a regional research institutes under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Alternatives to MBr in the strawberry production sector in Lebanon This manual is an essential output of the MBr Alternatives Project for the Strawberry Sector. It is the fruit of a remarkable collaboration with various partners namely UNIDO, the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute affiliated to the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture and the faculties of agricultural sciences of the American University of Beirut and of the Lebanese University. It is the application protocols of the MBr alternatives specific to the sector and it is also a guide for farmers.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Compost de qualité: Vers une agro-industrie durable au Maroc With the support of UNIDO, a state-of-the-art composting unit was set in Agadir that allows trainees to monitor the composting process in real-time, test the quality of the compost and optimize it. The adoption of compost technology also helps Morocco move away from the use of methyl bromide, a pesticide widely used in agriculture which depletes the ozone layer and is being phased out by the Montreal Protocol.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf High quality compost: Towards a sustainable agro-industry in Morocco With the support of UNIDO, a state-of-the-art composting unit was set in Agadir that allows trainees to monitor the composting process in real-time, test the quality of the compost and optimize it. The adoption of compost technology also helps Morocco move away from the use of methyl bromide, a pesticide widely used in agriculture which depletes the ozone layer and is being phased out by the Montreal Protocol.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Parting with a harmful partner Moroccan tomato farmers secure their livelihood in the post-methyl bromide era with the assistance of UNIDO.