Recently TP Rajendran led panel submitted its report on the matter of banning the use of 27 controversial pesticides in farming. The committee has cleared 24 of these chemicals and suggested a ban on 3 pesticides for farming in India. These pesticides contain toxic chemicals and if used indiscriminately can have adverse impact on human health and the environment.
Challenges associated with ban on pesticides:
The report suggests that chemicals, if used as per guidelines and specifications, have been found to be efficient and safe.
The ban on pesticides would affect the farmers who have used these chemicals for protecting their crops from pests, weeds, diseases.
Some findings suggest that outright banning these chemicals without any cheaper and equally efficient alternative would impact the crop yield adversely.
India which has highest number of impoverished children need high crop yield to execute its commitments under Sustainable Development Goals of Zero Hunger and National Food Security Mission.
Without the use of chemicals, the harvested and stored farm produce remains prone to the attacks of pests and fungal infestations.
Use of manual methods to remove unwanted pests and insects is found to be too expensive which thereby necessitates use of pesticides in modern farming.
Recommendation of International agencies on use of pesticides:
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization have formulated an international code of conduct on Pesticide Management which serves as a guideline for government, farmers, regulatory bodies, and NGOs.
Government should have overall responsibility to regulate availability, distribution and use of pesticides.
There should be standard procedures and guidelines to test the pesticide based on its efficacy and impact on health and environment.
Government should cooperate with WHO on reducing health and environmental risks by carrying out health awareness programs, use of reliable data for pest related incidents and those who are occupationally exposed to chemicals.
Government, industry, farmer producer organizations (FPOs) should promote use of proper and affordable protective equipment. Eg use of gloves and face masks while spraying chemicals.
Government and industry should adhere to strict guidelines framed by FAO regarding packaging and labelling of pesticides.
The government should frame and implement pesticide policy with pesticides registration and control system according to guidelines framed by FAO and WHO.
There is a need to promote awareness regarding the appropriate use of pesticides while replacing these chemicals with environment-friendly bio-pesticides and incentivizing production to feed the population should be a main concern for the policymakers.