A high level conference of officials and researchers, convened by Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran here on Wednesday, decided to ban several red category pesticides and introduce restrictions on the use of certain yellow category weedicides and fungicides in the State.

An order for enforcing the decision is likely to be issued in a day or two as part of implementation of the organic farming policy. The policy recommended phasing-out of pesticides over ten years, considering the peculiar characteristics of the ecosystems in the State. The Kerala Agriculture University has already prepared a revised package of practices for agriculture in tune with the policy.

The red category chemicals listed for ban include Furadan, phorate, methyl parathion, monocrotophos and methyl demeton. Rodenticides bromadiolone and zinc phosphide have been recommended for restricted use besides agro-chemicals such as Karatee, chlorpyrifos and cypermethrin. Use of yellow category pesticides such as Profenophos and triazophos are also proposed to be restricted.

The conference resolved that pesticide use should be severely restricted in biodiversity hotspots. Sale of red category pesticides are already banned in Kasaragod and Wayanad districts. Measures should be taken to educate workers regarding safe use of pesticides and disposal of unused pesticides and wastes. They should also be encouraged to wear protective clothing.

The conference also discussed the problem of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables arriving in the State and decided to establish five regional testing laboratories to test fruits and vegetables for residues.

Senior officials and researchers of the Agriculture Department, Kerala Agriculture University, Kerala Biodiversity Board and non-governmental organisations attended the conference.

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