The first Biopesticide Regulatory Harmonization workshop involving all regulatory points of contacts of the participating countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam was conducted online on 18 March 2022. The workshop was facilitated by Mr. Luis Suguiyama, Biopesticide Regulatory Expert, Ag Aligned Global, USA. Prior to this workshop, a survey was sent to all regulatory points of contact to determine the status of biopesticide regulatory development in line with the East Asia Biopesticide Guidelines in the participating countries. A secondary objective was to confirm the commercial availability of biopesticide products selected for the efficacy trials as residue mitigation tools. Based on the workshop, the project can ascertain that the participating countries have biopesticide regulations in place and in alignment with the 2013 ASEAN Guidelines on the Regulation, Use and Trade of Biological Control Agents.
Followed by the interactions from Mr. Suguiyama, the interactive session on the development of functional capacities was facilitated by Ms. Martina Spisiakova, KM Coordinator, APAARI. This interactions explored the type and importance of functional skills for regulators to enable them to successfully regulate the biopesticide development in their countries and promote further innovation in this field. The participants brainstormed on what is innovative in this project, and the development and application of biopesticides was only identified as one element of innovation. They considered other types of innovation more related to processes, which require a set of functional capacities, as understanding and regulating safety aspects of biopesticide development, explaining to diverse stakeholders what biopesticide is, how and why it is important to use it, more effective awareness and advocacy with farmers, while promoting what farmers already know (indigenous knowledge), broadening awareness to communities and consumers, and improving the legal framework, which is missing in some countries. The participants also explored what is meant by functional capacities and why it is important in the context of their regulatory work – through the key concepts of the Common Framework on Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems.
As a next step in building these functional capacities, the participants discussed the planned workshop on risk communication to also include regulators, from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, together with scientists. They also validated the proposed agenda to include the following key learning elements:
- understanding the importance of risk communication as a crucial functional capacity to enhance agricultural trade and ensure food safety
- analyzing diverse stakeholders’ perceptions of pest-related risks in the region
- understanding of the types and effectiveness of pest and pesticide-related communication strategies to different audiences
- skills to formulate more effective messages addressing the perceptions of diverse stakeholders
- skills to use different channels to raise awareness of diverse stakeholders about pest and pesticide risks and benefits of biopesticides