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Plea for effective pesticide policy

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Sept. 6

THE increase in the offtake of pesticides necessitates an ``effective pesticide policy'' primarily on account of the opening of WTO regimes, Dr Panjab Singh, Director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), has said.

Use of pesticides and fertilisers is seen rising mainly to achieve substantial increases in food productivity. ``While more toxic and long persistent insecticides may continue to be banned, new eco-friendly molecules and bio-pesticides may require to be developed or imported and commercialised for agricultural applications,'' Dr Singh told the delegates at the Asia Pacific Crop Protection Conference here. In this context, he spoke of a need for a pesticide policy to achieve continued growth in agricultu ral production and nutritional security.

Currently, 30 per cent of the entire agricultural produce was destroyed by pests and diseases, costing Rs 60,000 crore annually, Dr Singh said.

According to him, 70 per cent of the total 78,000 tonnes of pesticide produced in India was used in agricultural sector. Of this, 50 per cent was used on cotton, despite the fact that cotton crop accounted for five per cent of the total cropped area in t he country.

Although, India was among the lowest consumers of pesticides (480 gm per hectare), indiscriminate use was of concern, Dr Singh said.

``The various ill effects of pesticides such as the problem of pest resistance, pest resurgence and toxic residues are matters of concern and require a viable solution,'' he said.

IARI, he said, was working on the potential of neem products in agriculture. Its group on neem research was addressing issues relating to standardisation, stabilisation of neem based pesticides.

Dr Singh also said a referral laboratory on pesticides at IARI was being set up to meet the future requirements of a toxicant-free import and export of the agricultural, horticultural, animal and dairy produce.

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