Pes­ti­cide lobby all the way

Down to Earth - - AGRICULTURE -

SUKHMAN­DER SINGH com­mit­ted sui­cide on Oc­to­ber 4 in Pun­jab's Behmandi­wan vil­lage af­ter his 1.8 hectares of cot­ton crop was com­pletely de­stroyed by the white­fly pest. He was the third mem­ber of his fam­ily to com­mit sui­cide in the past 18 years be­cause of pest at­tacks. Papa was un­der de­pres­sion af­ter get­ting a to­tal yield of just 20 kg this year. He has left be­hind a 2.5 lakh debt for us, says Singh's 16-year-old daugh­ter Rimpy.

This year, white­fly pests have de­stroyed al­most 75 per cent of cot­ton crops in Pun­jab, Ra­jasthan and Haryana. This is de­spite the fact, that the farm­ers in th­ese states spend heav­ily on pes­ti­cides.

Ex­perts say the state gov­ern­ment has been sell­ing pes­ti­cides to farm­ers even when stud­ies by the Cen­tral Cot­ton Re­search In­sti­tute, Nag­pur (CCRI) in 2002 con­firmed that the white­fly has be­come im­mune to pes­ti­cides.

In late Septem­ber, CRRI is­sued a no­tice to farm­ers through the lo­cal me­dia ask­ing them not to use Fipronil-based pes­ti­cides be­cause they pro­mote the breed­ing of white­fly. The Pes­ti­cides Man­u­fac­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia im­me­di­ately slapped a le­gal no­tice on them. It is their agenda to in­tim­i­date us (sci­en­tists) but we re­sponded with proof. Let us see what hap­pens, says K R Kranti, di­rec­tor, CCRI.

The other point that is emerged is that spu­ri­ous pes­ti­cides are be­ing sold ram­pantly in the mar­ket. A 2013 re­port by in­dus­try body Fed­er­a­tion of In­dian Cham­ber of Commerce and In­dus­try says that 40 per cent of pes­ti­cides sold in 2012 were spu­ri­ous that not only failed to kill pest but also dam­aged crops.

A se­nior CCRI of­fi­cial says that the Pun­jab gov­ern­ment bought 92,000 litres of Oberon in­sec­ti­cide this year for its 465,000 hectares of cot­ton crop. The in­sec­ti­cide is nor­mally only sold through the state gov­ern­ment and al­most all farm­ers use it, said the of­fi­cial. He added that ideally one litre should be sprayed per hectare of land. in­sec­ti­cides to meet the de­mand.

Sukhman­der Singh's fam­ily

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