Hyderabad: Punjab Agricultural Universitys reports on the harmful pesticides being used has led to the banning of over 20 pesticides by the Punjab government in the state.
The banned pesticides are toxic to birds and fish, and contaminate water and soil. The list contains the deadly chemical, Endosulfan, that is being phased out globally after it was found to cause deadly problems in Kasargod district in Kerala. Though it was banned by the Supreme Court till further orders in 2011, it is still used extensively across the country.
Dr T. Unnikrishnan, a senior general physician says the the harmful pesticides can impact many generations. “In the case of Endosulfan, it was used continuously for 20 years on cashew plantations and people are still suffering from the aftereffects. With continuous use it enters the food and water causing irrevocable ailments such as cancer, kidney trouble and other gerontological problems.”
Dr Emily Mathew, a scientist says that the after effects of using pesticides are startling. “We can see a decline in the insect population because of pesticide use. Despite banning many harmful pesticides, they are still sold freely in the market. There is no regulation and farmers do not keep a check on it because they are unaware,” she said.
Environmentalists say that there is difficult to regulate the sale of pesticides because dealers go directly to the farmers.
Results are initially good, encouraging farmers to use the chemical in increasing amounts, which ultimately proves counter-productive.
Citizens are advised to soak fruits and vegetables in water for at least twenty minutes to wash out the residue of the chemicals used in farming as there are few if any checks on the amount of permitted pesticides in foods in India.
TS, AP use up quarter of country’s pesticides
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh use almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the pesticides in the country, with about 14,000 pesticide dealers in both states. The government has begun to take shaky steps towards controlling this danger but there is yet to be any major improvement in usage.
C. Parthasarathi, APC & secretary, ministry of agriculture, said, “We are trying to promote Integrated Pest Management and in order to minimise the use of chemicals we are creating insect traps. We are also multiplying parasites in our labs that could feed on pests, and then releasing them in our fields. This will not affect the ecosystem because their survival time is also less.”
Extensive research over the years shows high presence of pesticides in agriculture samples, which agriculture officials say they are trying to contain.
Dr Shyam Sundar Reddy of IIIT-Hyderabad, said, “Any poison will harm the soil and also leave residue that will enter humans and animals. Farmers need to be made aware that the environmental damage caused by these pesticides largely outweighs the productivity. It is a death trap and extensive research shows that even our ground water is getting affected by pesticides.”
Farmers are approached directly by pesticide dealers, who sell at a discount, making it difficult for the government to intervene.
Kishan Kumar (name changed), a 40-year-old farmer from Medak, said, “We are directly approached by companies who give us pesticides for free as opposed to the high prices we have to pay in the market. When we use the same, a difference in the yield doubles. Insect attacks and rotting is minimal. However, officials approached us and organic farming clusters were formed. The yield has fallen slightly, but we are assured that it will be constant.”
Mr Parthsarathi of the Ministry of Agriculture said organic farming clusters have been formed in every district. He says farmers have been told to check the label on pesticides should they use them. "The concept of RYGB has been implemented in descending order. The most poisonous will be Red and the least toxic will be Green."
The Telangana Agricultural University has collaborated with the ministry to raise awareness about pesticide usage, but strict regulations are yet to be implemented to stop pesticide dealers.