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, 2011
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Pesticides industry meet to raise issues of health, traceability

Source: Hindu Business Line, Date: , 2010

From the perception that pesticides are linked to health hazards to addressing issues such as traceability and market access - the estimated Rs 8,000-crore domestic pesticide industry is looking to raise these challenges at a multi-stake-holder conference in Delhi next month.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture has asked the industry to help in partnerships with farmers to help increase yields, and the industry on its part will seek support from the Government to forge such partnerships across the country, said Mr Rajju Shroff, Chairman and Managing Director of United Phosphorous.

The conference aimed at “Rural prosperity through better agriculture” in the first week of December will be inaugurated by the President, Ms Pratibha Patil, besides seeing the participation of the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar. Farm-machinery companies, seed firms and others will also participate.

Several industries privately or individually already train and educate farmers. To further encourage such extension work, the conference will also institute an award, and the winner will be feted by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, industry representatives said.

The development comes against the backdrop of the simmering controversy over the insecticide endosulfan. Launching a stinging attack on “problems created by environmental NGOs (non-government organisations)”, industry representatives said a judicious use of pesticide needs to be advocated, and not complete bans. Citing a study, about three years ago in Mumbai, Mr S. Ganesh, Chairman, Indian Chemical Council, said that people were ready to accept the use of anti-pest chemicals in their homes, but protested when it came to farmers wanting to protect their crops.

Residents in Mumbai were found to spend about Rs 180 crore on anti-pest activities, while the use of pesticide by farmers in Maharashtra was about Rs 200 crore, he said.

Industry representatives also sounded caution on the Free Trade Agreements that India was formalising with several countries.

What the industry seeks is a level playing field, he said, adding that, if Indian agriculture products were being put through stringent checks on residual pesticide etc, the same needed to be done on the flood of fruits and other products, including olive oil coming into the Indian retail markets.