|PAN UK Project: Growing coffee without endosulfan|
Between 2013 and 2015, this project - conducted in partnership with the 4C Association - researched and prepared practical guidance on methods of effective pest control in coffee farming without the use of the highly toxic pesticide endosulfan.
Aim of the project
The project utilised PAN UK’s scientific and technical expertise to identify viable alternatives to the use of the highly toxic pesticide endosulfan in coffee production systems in Latin America. PAN UK interviewed over 20 farmers whose farms are farms are certified or verified under under social and environmental standards such as 4C, FairTrade, Rainforest Alliance and Utz Certified, to profitably control pests without endosulfan.
This project was funded by, and undertaken on behalf of, The Sustainable Coffee Program powered by IDH, the Rotterdam Convention, the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and the ISEAL Alliance – the umbrella association of all the social and environmental labelling standards schemes.
We used these experiences to compile learning tools for other farmers still dependent on endosulfan, comprising:
The problem with endosulfan
Endosulfan is a highly toxic, antiquated insecticide, and one of the last organochlorine pesticides still in use. It’s so toxic that before it was recently banned across most of West Africa, every year it killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of cotton farmers by accidental poisoning alone.
Epidemiological studies link chronic exposure to endosulfan to autism, delayed puberty, and birth defects of the male reproductive system in humans, while it is also highly toxic to fish, birds, fowl, bees and wildlife. Additionally, it’s also a persistent organic pollutant – it sticks around in the environment long after it’s been applied, it accumulates in organisms and across food chains, and it travels the globe and contaminates ecosystems far from where it’s used.
The listing of endosulfan by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in 2011, following a successful campaign by PAN UK, triggered its inclusion on the prohibited lists of a number of supply chain standards schemes. The elimination of endosulfan will bring numerous health and environmental benefits, but some producers in the developing world may find it difficult to adapt to its removal – particularly in the coffee sector.
Coffee Berry Borer
The main coffee pest for which farmers may still use endosulfan is the coffee berry borer (CBB), a tiny beetle causing quality losses in green coffee beans if not adequately managed. The project gathered successful experiences in managing CBB in Latin American production systems, large and small scale, shade and unshaded, with varying levels of CBB attack. It looked at methods and experiences used in both organic and non-organic systems including:
A key focus was to identify common problems and the approaches used to overcome them, along with the support farmers receive – or felt they would have benefitted from – to assist in their transition away from endosulfan.
photo : a coffee berry after attack by a borer
PAN UK has compiled ‘real world’ information on experiences of Latin American coffee farmers who have successfully eliminated endosulfan, in smallholder associations and on coffee estates. This information includes a series of farm case studies and a set of videos in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese:
Other background documents
Short Case studies
Detailed Case studies
Project media coverage
Briefings for policy makers
A leaflet in six different languages on the conclusions of this work aimed at policy-makers, regulators and other stakeholders.
This project was funded by, and undertaken on behalf of, The Sustainable Coffee Program powered by IDH, the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and the ISEAL Alliance – the umbrella association of all the social and environmental labelling standards schemes.