Punjab plans to cut pesticides use in basmati rice

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Punjab plans to cut pesticides use in basmati rice Basmati grown in Punjab this year is likely to witness a major reduction in use of pesticides and fungicides that lead to rejection of export consignments from India. Alarmed by hurdles in export of rice from India, the state government is reaching out to farmers through Gurugwaras, public meetings and social media to dissuade use of Acephate, Cabandazim, Thiamethoxam, Tricyclazole and Triazophos—chemicals responsible for higher residue level in rice. 

"There will be significant decline in use of hazardous chemicals in rice this year that cause hurdles in exports," KS Pannu, Commissioner Food and Drug Administration Punjab told ET. “Any adverse effect on export of rice will have adverse effect on Rs 50,000 crore business in India and hit hard economy of the state,” he said. He maintained that an exhaustive awareness campaign is underway by joining hand with pesticide dealers, commission agents farmers and rice industry. 

Punjab Agriculture University has already recommended alternatives to these five pesticides and fungicides. This season, Punjab, is expected to harvest a record output of rice. But stricter pesticide residue norms in global markets are posing hurdles to rice from the country. 

As per study of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), over 400 refusals have been recorded of exports from India owing to presence of higher than approved level of pesticides residue. “But banning these chemicals is beyond the purview of state government as they are registered with the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee, ” Pannu said. 

In paddy, much of the pesticide and chemical is used in September and October. Dealers meetings are being held at district level as well as block level to dissuade them from selling these chemicals. “Posters are doting dealers markets across rice growing districts to aware farmers of harm caused by these chemicals,” an official of Punjab agriculture department said. 

A nodal officer has been appointed for each district to monitor the awareness campaign. Rice exporters and millers have also recruited people to push the drive in rural areas.

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By BOA Bureau