To celebrate the longstanding achievement in the crop protection sector of Pakistan, CABI organized a dialogue on ‘Regulatory Harmonization in Pakistan for Maximum Residue Limits and Biopesticides’ in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The event saw the approval of biopesticide registration guidance to promote the uptake of safer-to-use and more environmentally friendly biopesticides in the fight against crop pests and diseases which threaten livelihoods and food security.

Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik, Federal Minister for the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R), appraised the biopesticide registration guidance to further improve the quality of food produced and mitigate trade related issues.

High levels of aflatoxins and maximum residue levels (MRLs)

This includes high levels of aflatoxins and maximum residue levels (MRLs) affecting food produce, such as maize, chillies and groundnuts, as well as commodities including cotton – particularly in respect of aflatoxins impacting upon cotton seed and cotton seed cake.

Fifty-nine key stakeholders – including those from federal and provisional regulatory authorities, international development organizations and the private sector – attended the dialogue which will also help Pakistan access more global markets.

Agriculture is very important to Pakistan’s economy and people. It is the largest sector, employing over 42% of the workforce and it contributes around 24% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

However, an increased demand for food to meet Pakistan’s growing population – predicted to nearly double to 403 million by 2050 – is challenged by low agricultural productivity due to losses caused by a range of crop pests and diseases.

Overreliance on pesticides

There is an overreliance on pesticides to try and manage the scourge of crop pests and diseases in Pakistan with the market – currently valued at over $300 million – expected to rise to $500 million in the next five years.

Ninety percent of these pesticides are imported as raw materials, with only 10% as final products.

The Department of Plant Protection (DPP), functioning under the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFS&R), oversees the pesticide sector’s regulation and since the Agricultural Pesticide Ordinance 1971 and Agricultural Pesticide Rules 1973, over 7500 chemical pesticides have been registered for commercial use.

More sustainable pest management solutions

Nevertheless, there has been, in recent years, a focus on food safety and ecosystem conservation that has driven efforts towards more sustainable pest management solutions. As such, the rise of biopesticides products has gained attraction globally.

Since 2018, CABI, in collaboration with the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and with support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been leading a project ‘Aflatoxin control in Pakistan’.

This initiative is focused on demonstrating the efficacy of an indigenous biocontrol product to mitigate aflatoxins along the supply chains and to facilitate the registration of biocontrol products/biopesticides in Pakistan.

As is currently the case across most South Asian countries, Pakistan’s existing pesticide regulatory system only considers the registration of chemical pesticides. This hinders biopesticides being commercialised and impedes their widespread use.

Recognizing the limitations in the existing pesticide registration process to include biopesticides, CABI in 2019 initiated formal discussions with the DPP, in collaboration with experts from USDA and PARC.

Development of guidelines for registration of biopesticides

  The journey in development of biopesticides registration guidelines discussed at recent dialogue in Islamabad (Credit: CABI).

To start this process, CABI convened a four-day workshop in February 2020 on the ‘Registration and Commercialization of Biopesticides in Pakistan.’ Efforts were made to understand the existing registration process and to develop the guidelines for registration of biopesticides in the country.

During the event, participants were provided with insights (data requirements, forms, procedures, labelling requirements etc.) to help regulatory authorities and other actors understand existing global mechanisms for biopesticide registration.

This included guidelines from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the US Environment Protection Agency (US EPA), among others.

Following the workshop, CABI facilitated extensive consultation sessions with regulatory authorities, including the DPP, and led a team of biopesticide experts from USDA and PARC who jointly developed a national registration guidance document.

This served to cover the registration process of microbial and biochemical biopesticides and their commercial availability in Pakistan.

CABI formally submitted guidance document

Afterwards, CABI formally submitted the biopesticides registration guidance document to the DPP for incorporation into its regulatory system in July 2020.

The guidance document included new application forms for registration of biopesticides and relevant information – particularly with regards to minimum data requirements for the registration of active ingredients and formulated products; exemptions from registration; and guidance for waivers.

Over the period of last three years, the DPP led various consultation sessions with relevant stakeholders and authorities and concluded their due review process of the biopesticides registration guidance document.

After deliberated discussion, the biopesticides registration guidance document was approved from respective technical for, for example, the Agricultural Pesticides Technical Advisory (APTA) Committees back in November 2023.

Registration guidance approved

Furthermore, this registration guidance document was discussed and approved though a Cabinet Committee on Legislative Committee (CCLC) Meeting held in January 2024. Dr Tariq Khan, Director Technical Registration at the DPP, said the process of biopesticides registration has reached its final stages and will soon be available for industry.

Jessica Mudjitaba Fernandez, Program Manager at USDA, assured full support for the promotion and development of the biopesticides portfolio in Pakistan.

“Pakistan and the United States have a long history of collaboration in the agriculture sector, starting from the era of green revolution. However, the aflatoxin project is the first big initiative by the United States government to ensure food safety for the people of Pakistan,” she said.

More reliable and sustainable alternatives

Dr Ghulam Muhammad Ali, Chairman of PARC, praised the efforts of stakeholders for these joint efforts. He said biopesticides would address the issues and challenges related to crop protection and farmers will now have more reliable alternatives to manage their crops from pest attack.

Dr Babar Bajwa, CABI’s Senior Regional Director, Asia, expressed his gratitude to all the participants for their active engagement in the dialogue and their sincere interest in the national cause of ensuring food safety and implementing biological control to provide safe food to the population.

He said, “The collaborative efforts of CABI, USDA, USAID and PARC, and the private sector is a shining example of how global partnerships can drive positive change in agriculture.

“The journey continues with a shared commitment to building a resilient and biopesticide focused future for Pakistan’s agricultural landscape.”

Additional information

Main image: Biopesticide registration guidance to promote the uptake of safer-to-use and more environmentally friendly biopesticides to fight crop pests and diseases in Pakistan has now been approved (Credit: CABI).


Dr Babar E. Bajwa – Project Executive

Dr Sabyan Faris Honey – Project Manager


Dr Muzammil Farooq – Project Officer

Saqib Ali – Communication Officer

Project page

Find out more from the project page ‘Regulatory harmonization in Pakistan for maximum residue limits and biopesticides.’

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Mudjitaba Fernandez – USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

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