Dr. Wagdy Sobeih:

"Plastic covers limit pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables"

The use of pesticides is commonplace in fresh produce production across Egypt. However, lack of adequate training often means that pesticide use is poorly understood and poorly managed, even where appropriate legislation standards exist. One common misconception is that ‘more is better’, in other words, that applying compounds at higher than the recommended concentration or with shorter intervals between applications gives better control of the target pest or disease. This is not only incorrect - ‘more’ does not give better control - it is also liable to generate greater problems with target organisms evolving resistance to currently effective compounds and increases the risks of much higher pesticide residues being present at harvest, and so entering the food chain. The challenge here is how to give growers a better awareness of the risks of over-application and excessive residues.

by Dr. Wagdy Sobeih, Director of technology transfer in photobiology, Lancaster University / Scientific Consultant for Al-Quds for plastic

Of course, low-income growers have no scope to access commercial pesticide residue analyses, even where these are available to larger scale growers.  Our vision is to empower small-holder growers across Egypt and other countries by putting in their hands ALQUDS smart films as a tool that will allow them to understand how their use of correct film above their growing conditions will affect residues level at harvest. 

Global use of pesticides has provided great improvements in crop yields but mounting evidence demonstrates multifaceted problems linked with long-term exposure to these chemicals causing economical, environmental and human health impacts. As fast-developing countries like Egypt  invest heavily in increasing production of high-value protected crops (fresh fruit/vegetable/salads) for local consumption/export maximum residue levels (MRL's) become a significant supply chain issue since international Regulatory Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for all pesticides act as a significant barrier to cross-border trade and leads to exported foods rejected and high food waste on an industrial scale when crops fail these limits.

In horticulture the technical challenge has always been safe and clean produces of pesticides in greenhouses/growing-tunnels employing plastic crop cover products since these produce highly individual/complex & evolving light/temperature environments.

The current standard plastic covers existed in the market have not been developed in over 30 years and these standard films are currently widely available to the industry in Egypt. Under this type of films in the protected environments, the pesticide residues on crops take much longer to breakdown than pesticide manufacturers labeled times (between days and months) & this can often lead to higher than permitted levels of pesticides remaining on foodstuffs leading to crop rejection/wastage/loss of trade/financial loss. Moreover, protected crops that are grown under glass/plastic standard covers that don’t modify the amount/type (wavelengths) of sunlight entering the growing space has never existed an approach which can increase the pesticides' breakdown.

Whilst the technology represents a world-wide market opportunity due to increasingly stringent MRLs alongside growing supply chain/consumer pressure relating to residues in food we at ALQUDS has been focus exclusively on developing various products of greenhouses films with various blends of additives that have positive effects on the  pesticide photodegradation/dispersal specifically relevant to the Egyptian growers. Therefore, the technology of the smart films produced by ALQUDS will have almost universal long-term value with Egyptian growers. The affordable film technology is a unique weighting-function approach that describes the effectiveness of solar UV/visible wavelengths to photodegrade a specific pesticide allows for rapid photochemical pesticide loss for any measured/modeled incident light/light-exposure period making it ideal for protected-cropping systems.

For more information 
Al Quds For Plastic

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