The foundation and history of the Association
In 1994, a group of people, while watching the pest control service market, came to the conclusion that there was a need for an organisation which would both represent the pest control profession and be a factor organising that profession. After 1989, over 2,000 pest control companies were established in Poland in a short time. In such conditions, it was difficult to know who operated in the market, how well they were prepared, and in which market segment they operated. Considering the risks involved in providing pest control services, it was clear to most of us that we were dealing with a very unhealthy situation. Thus, an initiative group was formed, composed of Hanna Długokęcka-Bielik, Jerzy Bieńkowski, Paweł Jezierski, and Adam Puściński, which set itself a goal to create a nationwide association of people operating in the broadly understood pest control industry.
Polish Pest Control Association (PSPDDiD) was officially registered on 25th April 1994, and, after several months of arduous work, the first General Meeting took place on 25th January 1995. Hanna Długokęcka-Bielik was elected Chair of the Association.
At the start of its activity, the Association determined its main tasks:
- professional development of the members of the Association,
- promotion of their economic activities,
- cooperation with authorities and scientific institutions,
- raising the rank of the profession,
- obtaining information about new technologies.
An important event in the life of the Association was the decision to publish the quarterly bulletin “Biuletyn PSPDDiD”. From the very beginning of the organisation’s existence, there was a need to create a forum for the promotion of knowledge and the exchange of views. The first issue was published in May 1995, less than four months after the first General Meeting of Members of the Association. The first two issues were more like newsletters. The management of the bulletin was entrusted by the PPCA Board to Tadeusz Kolbuszewski, who, starting from issue three, became its first editor-in-chief. He held this position until March 2002 when bulletin No. 1/2002 was published, the last one under his management. Over the years, the quarterly has undergone far-reaching transformations and it can be said without exaggeration that it is a showcase of our organisation. To date, 96 issues have been published.
Perhaps the most important purpose of the Association’s activity is constant supply of knowledge to the members, and that is why we attach so much importance to the organisation of training. The first training organised by our Association took place from 13th to 16th February 1996. It was basic training and it clearly confirmed the need to provide various courses and symposia. Before the first course, we did not even realise how important they would be, as our courses are more than just the knowledge passed on during lectures. They also mean the exchange of professional experience and consolidation of the profession.
On 27th February 1997, PPCA organised an international “Pest Control Conference”, which took place in the Column Hall of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW). It was attended by representatives of the authorities of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, the Ministry of Health, Provincial Sanitary and Epidemiological Stations, researchers of the National Institute of Hygiene, the Institute of Meat and Fat Industry, and foreign guests from Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Our activity in the field of organising conferences and symposia began with this event. We have been invited by other institutions and organisations, which has been an invaluable chance to expand and supplement our expertise.
An extremely important event both in the life of the Association and the entire pest control industry was the conference on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of PPCA’s registration. The conference, under the slogan “The role of pest control in protecting public health and food production safety”, took place in Warsaw on 23rd April 2004. Among many distinguished guests were: Maria Boratyn-Laudańska, PhD – Director of the Food Safety and Veterinary Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Krzysztof Jażdżewski, PhD – Chief Veterinary Officer, Marek Grabowski, PhD – Deputy Chief Sanitary Inspector, Prof. Michał Bartoszcze – The Biological Threats Identification and Countermeasure Centre of the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (WIHiE), Aleksandra Gliniewicz, PhD – National Institute of Hygiene (PZH), Lucjan Szponar, PhD – Food and Nutrition Institute (IŻŻ), Prof. Andrzej Siwicki – University of Warmia and Mazury (UWM), Prof. Jan Nawrot – Institute of Plant Protection – National Research Institute (IOR-PIB).
PPCA and challenges of European integration
Our country’s preparations for joining the EU resulted in a radical acceleration of changes in many spheres of life. A very clear example is our food industry, which, wishing to meet the EU requirements in terms of ensuring the sanitary safety of production, has made enormous progress in this area. One of the many actions food companies had to take was to ensure effective pest management. After all, the commonly used HACCP system assumes that a facility is free from pests. In other words, it is unthinkable to have an institution with the HACCP system implemented and pests running around at the same time. Freeing the facility from rodents, cockroaches, mill moths, weevils, and other uninvited guests is a preliminary step before the implementation of quality systems. Pests may appear in the facility from time to time and later, but for these situations emergency procedures are provided which are part of the pest management system. And so, the second stage of pest control companies’ operation is to implement such a system and supervise it. If it comes to modern quality systems, there is no room for acting from case to case, and there is no room for people who are not true professionals in their field. Therefore, food processing companies, wanting to deal with the problems of pest control in the right way, began to look for competent pest control companies. It turned out that there is a need for firms that, based on their extensive knowledge and professional experience, are able to:
- identify possible threats,
- design the system,
- supervise the system,
- take corrective actions,
- compile and implement records that will clearly reflect the situation in the plant.
Just ten years ago, only a few pest control service companies, those lucky enough to work for food exporting companies, were faced with the issues of permanent facility supervision. Pest controllers lacked knowledge about the functioning of disinsection and deratization services in facilities subject to special, for those times, supervision. The pressure to widen the knowledge in this field was huge and this situation was a big challenge for Polish Pest Control Association. After all, as mentioned before, training is one of the main areas of our organisation’s activity. The Association turned to the representatives of science with a request for help in organising training for the Association’s members, in the field of the role of pest control in quality systems in the food processing industry. This training would complement the courses organised earlier. Later these courses had different titles, but regardless of that, it was possible to train, or rather upskill, the participants, because these courses were addressed to those who already presented a high level of expertise, a large group of really well-prepared professionals. At the same time, it is worth emphasising that there was a certain difficulty in designing the programmes of this kind of courses, resulting from the need to treat each facility very individually. Therefore, it was necessary to equip the course participants with such knowledge and such a set of rules, that they could cope with various situations encountered while doing their work. After several years of work and various experiences, it can be stated with full responsibility that we currently have many very good professionals in the country, who are able to cope with the most difficult tasks. Comparing what pest control service companies do in Poland with how such companies operate in, for example, Germany, it is safe to say that we are in no way inferior to them. I am particularly satisfied that many of the best professionals are in the ranks of PPCA.