Hyderabad: Scientists and environmental activists say that subsidies given to farmers for agriculture has degenerated the quality of soil and poisoned the food chain due to overuse of fertilisers and pesticides.
Agricultural experts in the city said selective and unscientific overuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides was the issue, rather than their chemical construct.
“Management of fertilisers is crucial, as the practice since the Green Revolution has been to excessively use urea and diammonium phosphates. While these two are crucial to the environment, the soil needs to be supplemented with 14 other micronutrients,” says Dr Girish Chander of Icrisat.
Straight fertilisers, as they are called, can lead to filling the soil with a specific element and this can result in reducing the vitality and cultivation capacity of the soil.
“There is a major knowledge gap that makes farmers use just these fertilisers. Since they are subsidised, procuring and using it in large quantities is easy,” said Dr Chourat Sudhakar, principal scientist, agriculture research station, Tandaur.
Pesticides tend to get over-used and leave a residue on the crop, which enters the food chain. “When pesticides are sprayed, only 5 to 10 per cent goes to the plants. The rest goes into the air, soil or water and pollutes the environment. It is extremely important that only the directed dosage is used,” said Dr Anitha V., principal scientist and head of the All India Network on Pesticide Residue.
Agriculturalists and scientists maintain that these chemicals must not be seen as a curse. “It’s a tool which can be used either way, and if used judiciously can be of great use,” Dr Anitha V. added.