The central government’s move to ban the usage of 27 commonly-used pesticides, weedicides and fungicides due to their bio-hazards have met with stiff protest from farmers. The farmers say these chemicals are widely used and economical, and have given them good results. The alternatives to these are exorbitantly priced and will increase the cost of cultivation, they said.
Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture published a draft notification asking for suggestions and objections for its plan to ban the 27 insecticides. This was the follow-up of a similar exercise carried out in 2013, when an expert committee was constituted to study the continued use or otherwise of neo-nicotinoid pesticides in India.
The committee had submitted its report on December 9, 2015, and had allowed the continued usage of the 27 pesticides, to be reviewed after completion of recommended studies. Based on studies on data and safety concern, the central government has decided to ban the manufacture, usage and storage of these chemicals and has sought suggestions and objections The list, which includes a mixture of chemicals used to control, pests, fungal infections and weeds, also contains products that farmers have been using for a long time. about the same for the next 45 days.
The list, which includes a mixture of chemicals used to control, pests, fungal infections and weeds, also contains products that farmers have been using for a long time. Acephate is used by cotton growers to control pests, while Arazine is used by sugarcane farmers to control the rampant growth of weed between two rows.
Ganesh Nanote, a cotton grower from the village of Nimbhara in the Barshitakli taluka of Akola district, objected to the inclusion of Carbendazim and Deltametrin, which he uses as fungicide and pesticide in his cotton fields. “The main reason for their popularity is that they do not cost us much. To cite an example, one kilo of Acephate costs around Rs 550 per kg and normally we require 300 gm to control the pest over an acre. On the other hand, the alternative available in the market costs around Rs 1,200 per kg,” he said.
Entomologist and cane grower Ankush Chormule said Arazine is the most commonly used weedicide in cane and costs only Rs 250 per kg as against its available alternative, which costs Rs 1,000 per kg.
Chormule, who grows cane over 10 acres of his holding in the village of Ashta in Walva taluka of Sangli district, had relied on Chlorpyriphos to control the larvae of white grubs which had attacked his fields in 2018-19.
“The present cost of this chemical is Rs 650 per kg while its alternative available in the market is being sold at Rs 1,050 per kg. Chlorpyriphos has been included in the list…will the government subsidize the alternative so that it becomes economical for the farmer?” he said.
C D Mayee, plant epidemiologist and president of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), was also critical of the list. “Why replace age old formulations which are economical with patented chemicals which will increase the cost of production?” he said.
Both Chormule and Nanote pointed out how farmers were not consulted in drawing up the list. “Coming right at the start of the kharif season, the ban will severely affect the farmers, it must be rescinded without further delay,” he said.
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