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11 February 2014, Rome - FAO in cooperation with the European Union will help Belarus to dispose of obsolete pesticides and reduce risks from pesticides used in agriculture in the future, under a new agreement signed today.Over the next two and a half years, FAO will provide technical assistance to Belarus in managing its stocks of obsolete pesticides, building capacity to minimize the threats from hazardous waste to human health and the environment, as well as strengthening legislation and building capacity in the management of pesticide containers. Together with the Government of Belarus, FAO will identify and assess the most highly contaminated sites with the aim to mobilise resources for risk reduction; promote alternatives to the most hazardous chemicals in use; and, develop communication strategies to raise awareness among farmers and the public."This is an important project for FAO, where our organization has a unique experience", said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General for Europe and Central Asia. "This project is also a solid step forward for strengthening cooperation between FAO and the Republic of Belarus". Dangerous stocks The agreement is a part of a four-year, FAO-EU partnership project on pesticide management launched in 2012 across the former Soviet Union. The EU is contributing €6 million to the initiative, and FAO, which acts as an implementing agency, has allocated €1 million in funding. With this agreement, a total of six countries have now joined the initiative: Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine. The project foresees disposal of over 1 000 tons of obsolete stocks from these countries until 2016, although Ukraine has already removed its obsolete pesticides stocks.It is estimated that around 200 000 tons of obsolete pesticides, around 40 percent of the world's stockpiles, can be found in twelve former Soviet Union republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Kept in tens of thousands of unprotected sites, they pose a serious threat to peoples' health and the environment. These stocks have accumulated during the Soviet era due to centralized supply systems, banning of products due to environmental and health concerns and a lack of capacity to dispose of obsolete stocks in an environmentally sound manner.