‘Pesticide residue in paddy is above prescribed limit in India’

Pesticide residue in rice is not only a concern for exports, but has vast ramifications on domestic consumption since rice is a staple diet for a large population in the country. In 2008-2009, the All-India Network Project on Pesticide Residues, a project supported by the Union government, had found pesticide residue in paddy above the prescribed maximum residue limit from samples taken from across the country.

Excerpts from an interview with Thiruvananthapuram-based C. Jayakumar, Director, Pesticide Action Network-India, and co-chair, Pesticide Task Force - Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, on the pesticide problem in India:

What is the extent of the problem?

There are 6 or 7 commonly used pesticides in vegetables, and 14 to 15 in rice at any given point of time. There are about 40 pesticides approved in the country for use in paddy cultivation. Post-harvest, chemicals are further used during storage in the warehouse or by the shopkeeper.

Is it true that pesticides are being used in high quantity?

We not only see very high quantity of pesticides being used, but also in an unscientific way. In one case in Jharkhand, we found pesticides meant to be used in cotton cultivation being used on paddy. Some samples of rice tested by Kerala State Agriculture University have also reported high pesticide residue.

What are the regulatory issues that you see in India?

Most Indian regulations are not tied up with the international regimen. India does not ban chemicals immediately after world bodies raise concern over a particular chemical. We are also casual about the use of pesticides. Cypermethrin, which was recently banned in Thailand, is still in use in India. More than 67 pesticides banned/severely restricted elsewhere are still used in India.

What is the way out?

International Rice Research Institute has said that rice in India can be grown without pesticides. There can be use of fertilizers though. Indian farmers are capable of growing rice with traditional knowledge. Villages should also be encouraged to have small mills that can mill the required quantity of rice instead of milling all the harvest at a time and then use pesticide/insecticide during storage.

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Printable version | Jan 13, 2022 7:00:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/pesticide-residue-in-paddy-is-above-prescribed-limit-in-india/article21823578.ece

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