‘Govt should make pesticide industry pay up for relief, rehab of farmers’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Oct 2017 09:09:45


Staff Reporter,

“There is nothing called safe pesticides. Pesticides are
dangerous. The rampant use of pesticides, including unapproved, illegal and ‘unsafe’ use, is clearly an indication of failure of pesticides or genetically modified seeds,” said Kavitha Kurungati of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).

Kurungati was addressing a press conference here on Thursday after presenting before media the report of a civil society fact-finding team that studied the deaths and hospitalisation of farmers due to pesticide poisoning in Yavatmal district. She said that State as well as Central Governments should be held accountable for the latest incidents of deaths and hospitalisation of farmers due to pesticide poisoning in Yavatmal district. Besides, she added, the Government should make the pesticide industry pay up for relief and rehabilitation support of those affected.

The fact-finding team comprised Kavitha Kurungati, Rahul Bole, Swati Sagare, Shankar Amilkanthavar, Karthikeyan Hemalatha, Sahebrao Namdevrao Parode. The organisations involved in the fact-finding visit to Kalamb and Arni blocks in Yavatmal district included ASHA, Dharamitra, Chetna Organic, and Nagpur Beejotsav Group.

S E Pawar, retired scientist of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre; Prakash Pohare, Editor of Marathi daily ‘Deshonnati’; Milind Raut also were present during the press conference. According to Kuruganti, the fact-finding team found a ‘systemic failure’ in anticipating the situation and controlling a highly preventable and unconscionable situation. “There is total lack of co-ordination and communication between different departments that should have acted to prevent such poisonings.

There is also a pathetic lack of adoption of frontier, post-modern science of pest management which shuns the use of hazardous technologies and adopts and agro-ecological approach,” she said.

The team found that mixture or combination pesticides were being used by farmers to counter the attack of sucking pests as well as Bollworm on cotton crop. They also wanted to boost the growth of the crop by adding a growth promoter or make the crop look better by the use of a chemical like Monocrotophos. Farmers were given this advice by pesticide dealers, and farmers themselves also were coming up with mixtures of two-three different chemicals. Pesticide companies also came up with ‘combination pesticides’, Kuruganti said.

The team squarely blamed the administration for ‘failure and complacency’ about lack of safety of pesticides. This is not the first episode of deaths and hospitalisations of farmers due to pesticide poisoning, but it is recurring feature, Kuruganti said. Between 2009-10 and 2015-16, Insecticide Inspectors showed that only 24 samples ‘failed’ the testing out of 875 samples collected and analysed. “No efforts were made for prevention, the responsibility for which rests with the State Government.

Besides, the Central Government must be held accountable for continuing the licenses of poisonous pesticides,” she added. The pesticide dealers are culpable to an extent for wrong advisories they may have been giving, the pesticide manufacturers, the pesticide regulators, the Health and Agriculture Departments and State and Central Governments are culpable too in this case, she stressed.

Maharashtra may be sitting on a crisis as there may be cases of Cancers, congenital disorders coming to light in future because of ill effects of pesticides, Kuruganti feared.
As far as Bt Cotton is concerned, Kuruganti pointed out that secondary pests and target pest infestation had been quite high to the extent of eight-nine pesticide sprays taken up by farmers whom the fact-finding team met. “We do not need such short-honeymoon kind of technologies,” she said.
In the team’s estimate, more than 34 persons have died so far in Vidarbha region.

Apart from Yavatmal, Wardha, Akola, Nagpur, Buldana, and Amravati districts also have reported cases of deaths and hospitalisation.