KOCHI: The Agriculture Department is all set to impose fresh restrictions on pesticide manufacturers and retailers in Kerala, who dictate terms when it comes to pest management.
Besides, the State Government has decided to ban issuance of licence to aspiring insecticide/pesticide dealers who do hold Degree in science subjects.
This initiative will have a direct bearing on pesticide dealers and retailers in the State as only a few among the 1,908 pesticide retailers are science graduates. The decision was taken following reports that it is the pesticide retailers who decide as to which chemicals should be used when farms get affected by pests and disease outbreaks. Of all the pesticide outlets, 40 per cent are run by cooperatives, and the remaining by private entities.
Speaking to ‘Express,’ Agriculture Minister V S Sunilkumar said a Central notification on the matter had stipulated that aspiring insecticide/pesticide dealers should be graduates either in Agricultural Science, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Life Sciences, or, in BSc Chemistry/Botany/Zoology.
“Existing dealers who are not science graduates could renew their licence by undergoing a special training. Such dealers can also continue doing business by hiring graduates,” he said. “Besides, agriculture officers have been instructed to inspect the stock and registers of pesticide/insecticide shops functioning under their jurisdiction once in two weeks. They have also been empowered to initiate punitive action against traders who sell banned and substandard products, under the Insecticide Act-1968. The Agriculture Department has also formed district and state level vigilance committees to check the flow of pesticides from neighbouring states through checkposts,” said the Minister.
Dealers have been advised to not sell pesticides and insecticides without prescription of the officials concerned.
“It will take some time for the Department regulate the entire pesticide industry, which has a strong influence on the farm sector,” said Kerala Agriculture University – Centre of Excellence in Environmental Economics – head Dr P Indira Devi, who conducted a supply-side analysis of Kerala’s pesticide market.
“The initiative to regulate the sector is a right step, considering the clout of pesticide retailers/manufacturers over farmers – by way of providing consultancy on pest management. Pesticide manufactures also play a vital role in information dissemination through retailers,” stated the report of the study conducted by Indira Devi, who also submitted a proposal to impart training to the existing pesticide dealers.