Conrad Mwanawashe : Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE is expected to save more than $500 million annually through internalising monitoring of pesticide residues in the tobacco matrix, horticultural products, water and meat for regulatory requirement compliance. This follows the acquisition of a state-of-the-art monitoring machine by the Tobacco Research Board.The $468 000 High Performance Liquid Chromatography tandem mass spectrometer (HPLC-MS/MS) instrument (AB Sciex 5500 brand), to be commissioned next Monday, analyses multi-class pesticide residues, or pesticides from different groups and pesticide product formulations in a single run.
The localisation of the monitoring of residues in pesticides means that Government will no longer need to move money to pay external labs, TRB general manager, Dr Dahlia Garwe said.
Similar tests in other parts of the world cost roughly $200 and it would take about a month to get the results back.
“By doing these tests locally we save on time, keep the money circulating locally, and support the local research board. You may want to note that Zimbabwe exported 29 373 054kg of tobacco as at February 25, 2016. If 2-10 percent of that was sampled for pesticide residues that would mean a lot of money being saved by Zimbabwe,” said Dr Garwe.
“Of course you need to note that a lot of these tobacco companies have parent companies elsewhere. So testing of their tobacco would be done in-house in the countries of the holding company. This tobacco would, therefore, never be tested locally even with the facilities being available because of such company arrangements,” she said.
The machine, which is part of TRB’s ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, also helps to reduce costs for tobacco, horticulture and water clients save as much as 50 percent in costs for testing pesticides.
Dr Garwe said reduction of costs can occur depending on the client request’s specific request, for instance, if an analysis requested involved three methods at say $105 per method, the single methods can be combined for pesticides compatible with the LC-MS/MS machine into one to cost $105 per multi-class residue method instead of $315 translating to a 66 percent reduction.
“So it depends on how many analyses the client would have asked for and how many single methods were supposed to be used for the work. For instance Pyrethroids cost $105 before VAT and Organophosphates cost $105 giving a total of $210.
“The machine can analyse both groups combined for $105. This is a 50 percent reduction in cost,” she said.
“The instrument will go a long way in assisting the tobacco industry to monitor pesticide residues in tobacco, thereby ensuring a clean crop for export. The instrument can also be used for quality monitoring for compliance of pesticide products before they are registered for tobacco use, a service that can be extended to analyse pesticide products used on other crops,” said Dr Garwe.