The use of banned pesticides has increased considerably in the ginger and plantain farms in Wayanad district.
Though the sale of Red category pesticides such as Phorate, Thimet and Furadan was banned in the State five years ago, the application of these chemicals is increasing in the district in an alarming rate as they are available at shops in the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border areas.
The alternative pesticides available in Kerala are not effective to combat plantain diseases such as Pseudo stem weevil, Bunchy top, Sigatocca , Kokkan, and foot rot, and the attack of Nematodes and Root Mealy bugs, says a chemical and fertilizer dealer at Erumadu, a small town on the State border.
Thousands of farmers shifted to plantain cultivation this year in the district after the price of the Nendran variety of plantain reached an all-time high of Rs.62 a kg a few months ago.
Thimet, Furadan and Phorate are available at Rs.80, Rs.100 and Rs.95 respectively in Tamil Nadu and there are no 24-hour government agencies at the border check-posts to monitor their transportation, he says.
Nobody can easily detect the application of a banned pesticide on the plants. It is difficult to trace the residue of the pesticide on the soil as it is applied on the axil of plantain leaves, says an expert here.
The presence of the chemical on the plant can be ascertained only through a sophisticated lab test.
The facility is available only in Thiruvananthapuram in the State. It is also reported that many a banned pesticide was being used on the cardamom and tea estates in the district. “When certain pesticides are combined their effect gets amplified. Often we are compelled to apply these chemicals, which do not even have a brand name,” a tea estate worker at Mepadi said.