Anti-pesticide week from December 3 in Idukki

The Agriculture Department will observe anti-pesticide week from December 3 to 10 in Idukki and monitoring of pesticides sprayed on estates will be intensified during the period.

Principal agriculture officer K.K. Chandran told The Hindu on Monday that campaigns among estate workers would be organised in association with grama panchayats, non-governmental organisations and research centres against the use of Endosulfan during the period.

He said Endosulfan and pesticides beyond the date of expiry would be seized from sales outlets and legal action would be initiated.

Mr. Chandran said there was a tendency among farmers to buy pesticides beyond the date of expiry at reduced rate and spray it above the prescribed limit, especially in small-scale cardamom plantations. This had resulted in withering of crops which also created health problems.

He said there was prescribed dose for each pesticide and the farmers often flouted it when the price of cardamom went up, producing negative results.

During the campaign, the farmers would be exposed to all unhealthy practices and the ill effects of Endosulfan would be explained to the estate workers.

Officials of the department had been posted at check-posts through which Endosulfan was being smuggled into the cardamom plantations.

Farmers using Endosulfan or pesticides above the prescribed limit would not be allowed any financial or other help of the department, he said.

Field studies would be conducted and samples would be tested to analyse the pesticides used in vegetable farms and the level of dosage, Mr. Chandran said.

The decision to intensify the campaign against the use of yellow or red labelled pesticides and Endosulfan in the cardamom and tea plantations follows a meeting of officials convened by Agriculture Minister Mullakara Ratnakaran at the mini civil station in Thodupuzha on Saturday.