Apprehension over use of insecticides in the wake of endosulfan controversy

The Rubber Board has clarified that the fungicides, insecticides and weedicides recommended for managing plant diseases are safe for spraying in rubber plantations.

Ever since the controversy over endosulphan erupted, there had been a marked fall in the spraying of fungicides, insecticides, and weedicides in plantations and vegetable gardens. The Rubber Board directive appears to be in response to the widespread apprehension among farmers over the use of even safe insecticides.

In a press note, the board said spraying of Bordeaux mixture and copper oxy chloride (COC) in rubber plantations to manage monsoon diseases was of no harm. Citing apprehension among farmers, the board authorities pointed out that Bordeaux mixture, COC (Phytolan) and sulphur dust were eco-friendly and were included in the organic recommendations. Fungicides such as carbendazim (Bavistin) and mancozeb (Indofil/ Dithane M-45), used against Corynespora disease and tridemorph (Calyxim) and propiconazole (tilt), used against root diseases, could be used as per the recommendations of agricultural officers.

Sulphur dusting against powdery mildew disease was recommended to be carried out early in the morning as presence of dewdrops on the leaves enhanced the effectiveness of dusting. Spraying of COC mixed with spray oil was also to be done in the early morning hours when velocity of the wind was at a minimum, to prevent the loss of fungicide due to wind, the note said.

The farmers themselves could assess the toxicity of the chemicals they use from the colour of the labels, the press note said.

The chemicals with the highest toxicity were labelled in red, the next ones in order of their toxicity were in yellow, those which could be handled with much precaution were in blue and the ones which could be used safely were provided with green labels. Sulphur dust, mancozeb and carbendzim were green whereas COC, thiram, tidemorph, calyxin and propiconazol had blue labels on their packets, it added.

The press note said no fungicide recommended by the board was included in the list of banned chemicals. The most commonly used stimulant, ethephone, was a plant hormone and was not harmful when used at recommended dosage.

However, the press note said that 2,4-D (Fernoxone) and glyphosate (Round Up/Glycle/Weedoff) were weedicides recommended for restricted use while phorate (Thimmet), an insecticide, and paraquat (Gramaxone), a weedicide, were among the banned chemicals.

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