THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The vegetables produced in the state are now safer, according to the Agriculture Department as 93.6 per cent of samples of vegetables tested in the Kerala Agricultural University labs were devoid of pesticides.
Only 38 of the 543 samples tested showed mild presence of toxins, and of these, only four revealed the presence of banned pesticides, Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar said. The samples were taken from vegetables produced in the state in 2017.
The minister attributed the results to the ‘Safe to Eat Vegetables’ campaign undertaken by the Agriculture Department, KAU, Kerala State Horticultural Products Development Corporation (Horticorp) and the Vegetables and Fruits Promotion Council, Keralam (VFPCK).
The 543 samples were collected from 13 districts and included green chillies, cucumber, string beans, amaranthus, beans, curry leaves, snake gourd, cabbage, capsicum and tomato. Samples from Kannur, Wayanad and Kottayam were hundred percent free of pesticides.
The Agriculture Department had launched the ‘Safe to Eat vegetables’ campaign following complaints that vegetables ‘imported’ from neighbouring states contained pesticide residues. A team of government officers who visited farms in Tamil Nadu also confirmed the charge. The state government had also taken up the issue with Tamil Nadu officers.
The Agriculture Department is planning to appoint an enforcement team as part of the measures to regulate the sale and use of pesticides. Teams of experts will be deployed at the state and district levels. The government will issue strict instructions that pesticides are to be sold only on production of a prescription issued by the agriculture officer concerned.