Friday, November 26, 2010

More pesticides to be withdrawn in Kasaragod

K.A. Martin
Sale licences of Red and Yellow categories to be revoked

Action against dangerous categories
lab in Palakkad

KOCHI: In what is perceived to be the firmest steps yet towards combating synthetic pesticides and their impact on human health, the State government has decided to withdraw licences to sell Red and Yellow categories of pesticides in Kasaragod district from December and to establish a state-of-the-art residue-testing laboratory in Palakkad district in six to seven months.

Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran told The Hindu on Thursday that the order to withdraw licences to sell these most dangerous categories of pesticides would be issued on December 3, the global No-Pesticides Use Day.

The Minister said the State government had sought support from the Union government for the withdrawal and as in the case of Endosulfan, it would only be the beginning of a move to take similar steps for the rest of Kerala in a phased manner. The order will empower agriculture officers to check the effectiveness of the withdrawal and entrust them the task to create public awareness.

The Agriculture Department has received a proposal to set up a laboratory facility for testing of vegetables and fruits for pesticide residues in Palakkad district. The laboratory will be in line with the one functioning at the College of Agriculture at Vellayani in Thiruvananthapuram. The Palakkad laboratory is expected to be funded jointly by the State government and the National Horticulture Mission.

Field reports
The move by the State government comes amid field reports that rising prices of vegetables and unprecedented pest attacks are forcing farmers in Kerala to resort to indiscriminate use of pesticides and fungicides across the spectrum of food crops. The Minister says that Kerala has got into a “pesticide trap.” The comment came in his letter to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar expressing the State's views on the new Pesticides Management Bill.

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