Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints
In news: 9 Farmers died in Maharashtra after spraying pesticides in their cotton fields. Over 1800 farmers affected by the inhalation of these pesticides since August 2017. The main cause is unscientific use of pesticide leads to harmful effects on environment, health as well as homes.
Unscientific use of chemical fertilisers only?
Some of the pesticides are used for last 35-40 years. So when it is used for such a long time, there is nothing wrong with the pesticides. But something else which government has to investigate in detail is about illicit liquor or tobacco use while using pesticide.
The pesticides in use for last 40 years can’t be made entirely responsible as any pesticide is highly regulated and its registered by Ministry of Agriculture after tons of data is collected and analysed.
World over, chemical fertilisers as well as pesticides have been a great cause of concern on soil fertility and ill effect on human life. There is empirical evidence that pesticides and chemical fertilisers are not used as per the norms set causes the harmful damage.
The bio-geo chemical systems within the soil also have to be properly treated on the fields. To go ahead with use of fertilisers, there should be policy dispensation where all the stakeholders have to come together to understand what is good and bad.
Using it properly is key?
Any chemical which is used to kill pests are going to cause disease in humans. On the packet, the usage has to be mentioned- how to dilute it, how to spread, see the direction of wind, and be opposite to it but sometimes, the gravity of problem is not fully realised. Sometimes, proper awareness is not there.
Rather than selling pesticide, the pesticide seller should be asked to sell the pest control. In developed country, the farmer doesn’t buy pesticide and uses it. In many cases, the pesticide dealer goes to the field and applies the pesticide. This is the solution to problem of adverse effect because of use of pesticide. In India, the indiscriminate use of fertiliser is everywhere which leads to many health problems, sometimes which are fatal.
Pesticide use in India- vis a vis other country.- use of pesticide per hectare is 10 times in japan than in India. But the pesticide residue on the food used in japan is not beyond the permissible limits. Hence, it is not that just the quantity matters, but also its application.
The fertilizers and pesticide companies should make more awareness that pesticides and insecticides are poison and every poison affects humans. Proper mask, hand gloves are to be used to avoid contact of those pesticides otherwise it can be harmful.
Ministry of agriculture- All India Network Project on Pesticide Residues- Every year they test more than 16000 samples of various food products and in 2% samples residue is found above the limits. In India, Minimum Residue Limit (MRL) is not a big problem other than Europe which has higher MRL.
Pesticides are poisonous, but same time they are helping in our food security. Dr. Norman borlough said that when India’s population was 60 crore, only 40 crore people could be fed with existing technologies used in agriculture. So new tools of technology has to be used but scientifically and with right information about their right use.
As long as companies are making profits out of it, they are not going to evolve. All the stakeholders have a key role- NITI ayog has a serious role in this issue as to laying down guidelines for proper use of fertilisers. Education campaign can happen across the farming community as to how to apply pesticides. The corporates have a larger stake as they are doing business and get profit out of it. They should invest the part of profit to educate the farmers about the right use of fertilisers. For example, Bio stimulants, bio fertilisers, bio pesticides have been tried in fields. The parliamentary standing committee has recommended setting up a pesticide authority to understand the issue of chemical pesticides. These are some of the ideas which need to be concretised to move forward without damaging food security. There should be a balance in short term and in long run there should be some kind of alternative. In the western world, chemical pesticides is not allowed to be used haphazardly.
There is need of comprehensive policy.
Education of farmers about the hazards of using chemicals is needed- Some of the farmers are not in position to buy safety equipment while using the pesticides. They need to be helped with subsidized equipment or cooperatives providing them on rent whenever they need it.
Between producers of pesticides and fertilisers and users, there are dealers. These dealers do not have technical knowledge of chemicals nor of agriculture. The license for sale of these pesticides and insectoids should be given to people who have knowledge of these things. A case was made that license should be given to people who are graduates in Bsc agriculture but then there aren’t so many trained agriculturalists graduates. So then the private persons were also allowed to have the license but with training by ICARI. It is even sold by unregistered dealers and quacks. When it comes to plants and agriculture, Indians are not that sensitive. The cost of this kind of neglect is becoming heavy. With little knowledge, more harm is being made to the agriculture. Hence, now it should be obligatory for part of sellers to give required instruction to buyer, the farmer. The incidence of deadly diseases is on rise. It is not affordable to ignore it. There is responsibility of sellers as well as farmers.
There is corporate law which says that 2% of profit should go into CSR. The industry can come with a plan which is for educating the farmer.
Every life is important and shouldn’t be lost due to pesticide usage. Ministry of agriculture has designed a course on dealer extension education programme. More universities should use this course. Government has these Krishi Vigyan Kendras whose major role is to drive the technology and give training to dealers and farmers. But unfortunately, this system has not been very effective. In 2009, agriculture budget said that agricultural extension system has collapsed and there is need for alternate. Yet, no alternate came.
Private industry is doing lot, but in a country where 14 crore farmers are there and more than 6 lakh villages, it is herculean task for individual to reach all farmers. Until all resources are put together and work in planned manner, that each farmer and dealer should be educated, there might not be effective change.
Organic farming- complete replacement cannot happen in short span of time. Organic agriculture is another extreme of chemical agriculture and if moved into extremes, there is going to be problem. The need is to find how to reduce the chemical to the minimum and how to reduce chemical effect. Some examples are Intercropping, Bio pesticide and Integrated pest management.
Also, phasing out of outdated chemicals like DDT should take place as soon as possible.
Bring down cost of organic farming and bringing about a balance between use of various farm nutrients shall help in long run.
Connecting the dots:
Chemical usage in farms is harmful but is essential now. Critically analyse the pros and cons of chemical use in farming.
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