The phase-out of methyl bromide
For decades, methyl bromide has been used as the fumigant of choice in intensive agriculture around the world as well as in the storage treatment of perishable goods and commodities. However, due to its high ozone-depleting potential, in 1992, methyl bromide was included among the Ozone Depleting Substances under the Montreal Protocol. Since then, phase-out schedules for this chemical were agreed upon, for all Parties to the Protocol, and financial support was granted to assist developing countries with their phase-out activities.
Since 1996, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has implemented a total of 175 projects in 55 developing countries for the elimination of more than 8,000 metric tonnes of methyl bromide, representing 70 per cent of the total phase-out of this chemical in developing countries.
This has been a great challenge for UNIDO and, at the same time, has created opportunities to promote a variety of non-chemical alternatives and to contribute to the overall development of countries and local communities. All projects have provided market headway to various agricultural sectors by making them more competitive on the international markets, which are increasingly requiring produce compliant with environmental standards.
The results achieved by UNIDO would not have been possible without the assistance provided by the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol and bilateral donors such as Canada, Italy, Japan, France and Spain, as well as by numerous governments, universities, experts, colleagues, friends and partners with whom we have worked over the past decades.
About methyl bromide
Methyl bromide is a fumigant that has been in commercial use for more than 60 years to control pests including various soil borne fungi, bacteria, insects, mites, nematodes and rodents as well as many weeds and seeds. It was also used extensively to disinfest food-processing buildings (e.g. mills, warehouses, ship-holds and containers) and stored durable commodities such as grain (including rice, wheat, maize and others), dried fruit and other dried foodstuffs and beans (e.g. coffee, cocoa).
Methyl bromide is also a well-established treatment for quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) control of a diverse range of pests and diseases on many commodities in trade; including timber, wooden packaging and various perishables such as fruits, vegetables and cut flowers. The Protocol exempted methyl bromide in QPS control from the phase-out plan because then it was considered that there were no feasible alternatives for such treatments and that, in consequence, the unavailability of methyl bromide would put international trade and the livelihood of many agricultural sectors at risk.
About “UNIDO Toolkit for sustainable compliance with the methyl bromide phase-out. A practical guide for all stakeholders”
UNIDO’s "Toolkit for sustainable compliance with the methyl bromide phase-out" aims to facilitate key stakeholders as well as other parties involved in this area in the process of phasing out methyl bromide in their productive activities. In addtion, UNIDO also assists parties with QPS reporting. A logbook form in this regard has been developed, which licensed fumigators should fill in whenever applying a QPS treatment.