The authority is likely to seek clearance from the agriculture ministry for scientific use of chemicals on crops, cut The Agricultural Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is mulling setting up of specialised agencies which can provide farmers with workers trained in application of pesticides and fungicides, according to a senior official. The move is aimed at improving compliance with global pesticide residue norms and reducing rejection of shipments of farm products.
The authority is likely to seek clearance from the agriculture ministry for scientific use of chemicals on crops, cut overuse dosage and ensure adherence to latest global maximum residue level norms, the official said.
As per the blueprint, which will soon be mooted to the agriculture ministry, farmers will have the option of hiring farm hands trained in use of pesticides and fungicides through specialised agencies.
The initiative has the backing of rice exporters, who are keen to initiate the programme for basmati. “After such agencies are established, the government could propagate by providing infrastructure for training and setting up service centres across rural landscape,” AK Gupta, director, Basmati Export Development Fund, an arm of APEDA told ET. “The service could be provided at a cost to the farmers and it will create skilled employment in the farm sector.”
Rice exporters are keen to involve farmers, pesticide manufacturers and commission agents in the programme. “The need for skilled workers was felt during a campaign to check use of pesticides being run across the rice-growing states in the north,” Gupta said.
At present, export of agricultural commodities, including rice, is facing hurdles due to rampant overuse of pesticides, unscientific practices in dealing with toxic chemicals, and use of fungicides that have been banned in foreign markets. Rice export to Europe has plummeted in the last two years due to stringent residue norms, and this year Saudi Arabia has also adopted the European standards.
“The awareness programme to check use of pesticides faces challenges like illiteracy and lack of scientific approach among farmers,” said Vijay Sethia, chairman All India Rice Exporters Authority.
The APEDA official said the setting up of specialised professionals for use of chemicals could cover all crops in later stages . “It will take four-five years to cover all crops after establishment of such agencies. It would require accreditation from the ministry of agriculture, Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine & and Storage (DPPQ&S), the APEDA official said. “After the concept is rooted and numerous service providers are present, the government would be able to set up standards for such agencies to aid farmers across the states and for all crops.”