Plan to restrict pesticide use still in cold storage

The Agriculture Department’s much-touted notification that farmers should require a prescription from agriculture officers to buy pesticides from retail depots still remains on paper.

Sources point out that lack of strong will on the part of the department, ambiguities in the government order and shortage of staff have affected its implementation. 

The notification issued in January 2011 was aimed at curtailing the indiscriminate use of pesticides in farms and to encourage judicious use of pesticides so as to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers as part of implementing the organic farming policy.

As per guidelines, an officer of the agriculture department not below the rank of agriculture officer would have to provide a prescription to the farmers indicating the crop on which the pesticide would be applied, the nature of the disease and the dosage of the pesticide along with its chemical name. The retail depots also need to keep a copy of the prescription and should maintain a register showing the details of sales, which should tally with the quantum of pesticides mentioned in the prescription.

“Though there are instructions from the Central Insecticide Board that each packet of pesticides should have labels showing the directions for use, the target pest and the dosage, such data are generally not provided. This is one reason for injudicious application of pesticides and the regulation was a long pending demand of the agriculture officers.

“However, as per the order ‘only officers not below the rank of agriculture officer’ are entitled to prescribe pesticides. This has so many drawbacks. If the agriculture officer is out of station, farmers will suffer. Similarly, agriculture officers who assumed the posts through promotion would not be agriculture graduates and could not be qualified for making such prescriptions,” an senior official told ‘Express’.

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The New Indian Express