Kerala

Banned pesticides used rampantly on cardamom

Pesticide being applied to a cardamom plant in the Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR) area in Idukki district.

Pesticide being applied to a cardamom plant in the Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR) area in Idukki district.  

When crop prices go up, pesticide use too increases

Indiscriminate use of banned pesticides is being widely reported in the cardamom sector in the district, following a rise in its price.

Recently, at a cardamom plantation at Rajakumari, the pesticide caused breathing problems among local people. The Health Department officials inspected the spot and directed the management to immediately stop its spraying. Though red category pesticides (the most dangerous ones), and some of the yellow category ones, were banned in the State, they are easily available in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Because of the proximity of the Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR) to Tamil Nadu, they are brought to the plantations in the district frequently.

Daily workers who arrive on taxi jeeps from Tamil Nadu to the cardamom plantations on the border areas are being used as carriers of the banned pesticides. In addition, they are smuggled to the plantations through the porous border routes.

Dangerous mix

Whenever there is a spurt in cardamom prices, the use of banned pesticides also increases. The banned pesticides are carried to the plantations under fake labels. They are either hidden in storerooms or in pits inside the plantations.

The only way to control them is to conduct proper checking at the plantations and the border check-posts, according to a cardamom researcher at Pampadumpara.

To make profit, farmers adopt practices like mixing highly toxic pesticides with other fertilizers, the combination of which is known only to them.

He said large-scale loss of plants had been reported following overdose of pesticide application. Good agriculture practices were not followed in plantations usually, though there were campaigns by the Spices Board of India and the Agriculture Department to reduce the use of the toxic pesticides.

In 2010, a field study by the scientists of Spices Board of India at a few plantations in Kumily and Vandanmedu found that farmers applied steroids and harmful substances to cardamom plants when prices rose.

Quality issues

The unscrupulous use of such substances would affect the prospects of local cardamom in the world market as the European Union is strict on quality check, said an official of the Spices Board.

According to a senior official of the Agriculture Department, the banned pesticides would have a long term impact on soil and water. A meeting would be convened to devise a plan against the application of such pesticides on crops, especially cardamom.

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 30, 2020 10:05:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/banned-pesticides-used-rampantly-on-cardamom/article28872924.ece

Next Story