New Delhi: Demanding a level playing field for domestic farmers, the Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations has said agricultural products imported into the country should be subject to the same stringent residue analysis that India’s farm produce undergo when exported.
“Developed countries do not import our agricultural commodities without subjecting them to extensive and sophisticated residue analysis to assess presence of pesticides. Arbitrary rejection of our exported commodities on this account are not uncommon,” said P Chengal Reddy, the Associations’ secretary general .
In a communication to Kamal Nath, commerce and industry minister, Reddy said all 35 Plant Quarantine Centres in the country should be equipped with facilities and manpower to carry out pesticide residue analysis.
The incoming consignment of agricultural commodities are not subjected to residue analysis as the country’s ports do not have the required resources in terms of residue analysis equipments and experts, Reddy said.
“This puts importing countries at an undue advantage over our exports. All further import of agricultural produce should be stopped unless a level playing field is created,” he said.
Developed countries use WTO-Sanitary and Phytosanitary provisions to the advantage of local farm products. OECD countries like the US and EU use 500-1000 % more pesticides for plant protection than Indian farmers and their exports to India carry huge levels of pesticide residues that are not even registered in India, he said.
Even the recommendation of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, set up in 2003 to review the pesticide residue issue, that the anomaly be removed is yet to be implemented. India’s agricultural imports in 2005-06 were Rs21,025 crore, while exports were to the tune of Rs49,802 crore.