New Delhi: Contrary to widespread perception that India ranks the highest among leading pesticide consuming countries, the fact, however, is that its pesticides consumption is the lowest at 0.5 kg per hectare as against 17 kg per hectare of Taiwan, 12 Japan, 6.6 Korea, 7 USA and 2.5 of Europe, according to a report brought out by Assocham.
A Presentation made on ‘Pesticide Residues in Indian Food and Agricultural Products’ for submission to the government of India, debunks the perception that India is the largest user of pesticides. What is needed is a stronger farmer training programme that can educate them on the right dosage of pesticide usage.
Indian food and agricultural products contain substantial quantities of pesticide residues as its farmers make indiscriminate use of fertilisers in the absence of adequate awakening which enter into food products and stays there for too long to neutarlize its side effects.
The major reasons for substantial pesticide residues in Indian agricultural and food products not only include non-judicious use of pesticides but also indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides, besides non-observance of prescribed waiting periods.
The other reasons for high pesticide residue is the usage of sub-standard pesticides and wrong advice tenders issued to farmers by pesticide dealers which leads to inadequate treatment of effluents from pesticide manufacturing units. In addition, wrong disposal of left over pesticides and cleaning of plant protection equipments are affected under totally non-scientific methods. Pre-marketing pesticides treatment of fruit and vegetables is also affected without resorting to stringent scientific practices.
In the light of the above, the maximum residue limit (MRL) and residue monitoring plan (RMP) had been fixed by the government and is the responsibility of secondary and territary level of food processing chain but they enter in food chains most of the time at primary level of food chain which results into non-monitoring and the high pesticide contents stay with domestic food and agricultural products.
In countries like USA, Europe, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the supplies of pesticides are affected in volumes with absolutely scientific methods for their spray as landscape in these countries are so huge that proportionate use of pesticides is done in a meticulous manner as their farmers are well awakened. While in India, things are entirely different and for obtaining higher yields, indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers go totally unchecked by its farmers.
The presentation also points out that indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers affect the level of residues in subsoil produce. One major reason is burning of crop residues in fields which lead to significant loss of nutrients in the soil and destorys its microbes, besides adding to greenhouse emissions.
It has therefore been suggested by emphasising that only recommended doses of fertilizers to kill pests should be effected by farmers and pesticide treatment both prophylactic and control should be judicious and at right time.
The Chamber holds that sufficient gap between treatment and harvesting is necessary for minimizing risks of pesticide residual toxicity. It has also recommended to follow cultural practices to avoid the mixture of toxic weed seeds and seeds of plants of other crops and varieties with suggesting that crops harvest should be done when all the grains are fully developed and have attained the maturity, luster and varietals colour for better realization of prices.
Recommendations include an integrated pest management plan that should be adopted for environmental reasons as also one that minimizes the residue of pesticides in food and agriculture products. Use of resistant varieties as also bio-pesticides will farmers obtain higher yields and get better price realization too.