Kerala

Muthalamada mango orchards still a toxic hub

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Agriculture Department finds excess use of pesticides

Mango orchards at Muthalamada remain a ‘toxic hub’ owing to indiscriminate spraying of hazardous pesticides.

The orchards, which were earlier known for widespread use of the banned pesticide endosulfan, now use other pesticides, including Cymbush, Monocrosfate, Talstar, Malathion, Azoxistobin, Omethoate, Chlorpyrifos and Thiabaeazove. Agricultural Department officials conducted a surprise raid on a few mango orchards and godowns on Friday upon receiving evidence of excess use of pesticides, especially in farms leased out to people from outside.

Two godowns that had stocked the pesticides were sealed pending investigation.

“The trend is not confined to Muthalamada. Health-related complications have been reported in Moochamkund. Adavumaram, Narippara Challa, Chulliyarmedu and Mechira. Most pesticides used here are highly poisonous. They are, in fact, substitutes of endosulfan,” said S. Guruvayurappan, a local resident and South India coordinator of Wildlife Protection Society of India.

Muthalamada is one of the largest mango production centres in the country. Its fruits are first to hit the market, by January-end. Last season, containers with Muthalamada mangoes were sent back from the Gulf countries after the samples tested positive for high pesticide content,” said Arumugan Pathichira, a social worker and anti-endosulfan activist. “Here the pesticide is sprayed on trees with the nozzle of the pump directed upwards. The person engaged in spraying gets affected almost instantly,” he added.

“Mangoes estimated to cost Rs.200 crore are exported from Muthalamada every season. In spite of our campaign for organic farming, a number of farmers buy chemical pesticides in large quantities from Pollachi,” said K.D. Kannadas, a farmer at Govindapuram.

Muthalamada has mango orchards spread over 20,000 acres. H. Hanifa, a farmer, said Muthalamada produced almost all the best and most sought-after varieties of mangoes in India — Alphonso, Neelam, Mallika, Malgova, and Chenthooram..

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 8:50:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/muthalamada-mango-orchards-still-a-toxic-hub/article6691401.ece

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