India bats for organic spices to stop use of illegal crop protection products
Aug. 4, 2011
Faced with extensive use of illegal crop protection products resulting in losses worth crores of rupees, the Spices Board has decided to lay emphasis on organic crop production in the coming years. The board, under the commerce ministry, plans to incentivise farmers and encourage them to increase sowing area under organic spices.
Farmers producing organic crops use no fertiliser and other crop protection products. Hence, the commodity grown organically leaves no residue of these products, thereby fetching a premium over conventional products. The Rs 300-crore organic farming sector is growing rapidly in India.
According to the recent survey by Belgium-based independent consultancy firm CropLife International, 25-40 per cent of illegal crop protection products, like insecticides, herbicides and weedicides, are used on crops in India. These illegal products, worth Rs 2,000-3,000 crore, are produced by unregistered producers, mainly in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra; and are rapidly spreading in other states too. The consultancy estimated crop damages to the tune of several times the value of illegal pesticides, said D’Arcy Quinn, director (anti counterfeiting), CropLife International, on his recent visit to India.
The Kochi-headquartered Spices Board planned to establish an organic input and output testing lab at the Indian Cardamom Research Institute in Myladumpara next year, said its chairman, A Jayathilak. Spice-producing companies will be formed, besides setting up of a research-cum-demonstration plot for organic farming in cardamom. Jayathilak also promised support to organic farmers in gaining experience through exposure visits to elite farms in various states.
A mix of illegal crop protection products are used by many small pesticide producers and traders. The government must address this before it is too late, says Partho S Lahiri, chairman, CropLife India, an arm of CropLife International. He says these pesticides not only cause crop failure but also have a long-lasting impact on domestic and international trade of agri crops.
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