Kerala

Ban on on-farm demos by pesticide firms

Representatives pose as govt. officers, coax farmers to try out products

Widespread malpractices involving harmful pesticides have led the Kerala government to ban on-farm demos and experiments performed on the sly by pesticide companies in farms in the State. Malpractices have been detected in almost all the districts, but it is especially rampant in the cardamom plantations in Idukki, Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar told The Hindu.

Incidents have come to light where representatives of pesticide dealers have been duping farmers by posing as government officers and coaxing them to try out their products. Elsewhere, pesticide companies were found to have carried out unauthorised experiments.

Harmful to ecology

In a June 17 order, the State government, acting on a letter from the Agriculture Director, categorically banned on-farm demonstrations and experiments illegally conducted by the companies. Such practices were harmful to the ecology and production of safe food, the government concluded. The Agriculture Director has also been instructed to prevent representatives of pesticide firms/dealers from masquerading as government officials to push their products.

Earlier, the Agriculture Department had issued a circular stopping pesticide firms from approaching farmers directly to promote their products. The government was constrained to adopt sterner measures after studies by the Kerala Agricultural University consistently reported the presence of harmful pesticides in certain regions, Mr. Sunil Kumar said.

Saudi’s refusal

“Spices, especially cardamom, are the worst hit. For instance, Idukki accounts for 95% of the cardamom production. One of our biggest importers, Saudi Arabia, has been refusing consignments for some time now due to the pesticide issue,” he said.

At a meeting, farmers in Idukki had apparently informed department officials that they were applying the pesticides on the advice of ‘supervisors.’ “We were initially under the impression that the supervisors were attached to the Spices Board. Eventually it turned out that they were people assigned by pesticide dealers,” Mr. Sunil Kumar said. A pesticide company was also found to have performed demonstrations of its new weedicide in farms in the Kole paddy lands.

The decision has come at a time when the Union Agriculture Ministry has issued the draft ‘Banning of Insecticides Order, 2020’ with the intention of prohibiting the use of 27 insecticides.

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 9:38:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ban-on-on-farm-demos-by-pesticide-firms/article31884563.ece

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