Farmers were unsure if they could use the products available in the market

President of the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (CAMPCO) Ltd. Konkodi Padmanabha said here on Wednesday that the cooperative will examine if it can market a chemical solution which can be used as an alternative to the traditional copper sulphate-cum-limestone mixture to control “kole roga” (fruit rot disease) in areca palms.

If the cooperative was to market the solution having potassium phosphonate, a registered branded company should have manufactured it by following all norms, he said.

Mr. Padmanabha was addressing farmers, scientists and officials at a seminar on ‘use of plant protection chemicals and fertilizers in areca plantations'. The CAMPCO and Arecnaut Research and Development Foundation had organised the seminar.

The president said that many chemical solutions were now available in the market under different brand names and each company claimed that its product controls “kole roga” effectively as an alternative to the traditional chemical solution. Many companies did not display the batch number, customer care number, or details of ingredients in their products. Hence farmers were unsure if they could purchase them.

H. Narayanaswamy, professor, plant pathology, arecanut research project, College of Agriculture, Navile, Shimoga, said he was yet to study the chemical components in such new products. He said that a study conducted by him revealed that for farmers spraying some of the new brand chemical solutions was costly when compared with the traditional solution.

Mr. Narayanaswamy said that potassium phosphonate contained nutrient and fungicide properties. Chemical solutions containing them could be used in areas that received less rainfall. Ignatius D'Souza of Bejai said that information obtained by him from the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage under the Union Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the RTI Act revealed that use of potassium phosphonate in the country was not allowed as per Insecticides Act, 1968.

He gave a copy of the information obtained on April 3, 2012 to Mr. Padmanabha. It read: “It is informed that product potassium phosphonate is included in the list of insecticides under Section 3 (e) under the Schedule as per GSR 672 (E) dated 28-9-1999, but still not registered under Insecticides Act, 1968. Hence its use in agriculture and horticulture is not permitted in India without registration.”

An official from the Department of Agriculture said that many such new brand solutions in the market did not have batch numbers and details of ingredients.

Raj Kumar, a scientist of the University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharwad, said that the university had developed a kit which farmers could use for soil testing on their own.