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Concerted efforts needed to keep world free of pesticides

Undesirable agricultural practices are polluting Kerala. While the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers is polluting land, pesticides poison water and air, and leave their residue on foodstuff. Recently the people of Venniyoor in Venganur panchayat escaped pesticide poisoning only narrowly. Our readers respond:

Law needed

The increased use of fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides was an integral part of the green revolution. Food shortage has given way to unprecedented increase in food production. But the increased production had problems to go with. Folidol, a lethal insecticide used in paddy fields killed not killed harmless insects. It also killed living beings weighing up to 8 kg like frogs and snakes. This created an ecological imbalance. Public health authorities should be more pro-active. Pests and insects should be controlled by biological methods like releasing `counter pests.' There should be laws prohibiting the use of uncertified insecticides and pesticides. No institution can be booked without such a law at the national law.

K.P. Karunakaran Nair

Kozhikode

Elimination

Demand for vegetables and fruit is high. Farmers are forced to use chemical fertilizers for better yield. Quality strikes a low here, as these are hazardous to health. The government should intervene and reduce price of organic fertilisers. There should be extensive awareness programme so that farmers get to know the consequences of the use of harmful chemicals. Farmers should know that pesticides are not just eliminating pests but also human beings.

Dilna E. Devadas

Palakkad

Better resistance

In Kerala, the cost of production is very high. Further, if the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is not possible, yield from each plant will be very low and chances of it getting destroyed by pests very high. On the other hand, continuous use of chemicals contaminates land. It poisons water and air and leaves the residue on foodstuff. Therefore agriculture universities and scientists should concentrate on developing seeds and plants, which are better resistant.

Vincent

Malappuram

Action needed

Farmers in Kerala were reluctant to use fertilizers during the initial stages. Fertilizer companies and Agricultural department staff had to work hard to get farmers to use chemicals. Gradually the harvests impressed farmers and the use of fertilizers increased. Due to the commercialisation of agriculture, the use of high-yielding seeds, fertilizers and pesticides increased and farmers resorted to overuse. They knew little of the harm it would cause. There should be awareness campaigns to inform people of the bad effects pesticides and fertilizers. Post-harvest use of pesticides for preservation and fresh look should be strictly curbed. Agriculture and Health departments have a role to play in this regard. Educating people of the harm the fresh-look fruits and vegetables can do and punishing those engaged in adulteration will help reduce this menace to a great extent.

V. Sankaran

Palakkad

`Conservation'

Recent trends in agriculture technology clearly indicate a major change in the traditional agricultural practices. Often it is touted that in order to cater to the large and increasing demand for agricultural produce, one has to use fertilizers, pesticides and use tillage to remove weeds etc. However, recent reports including by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) clearly show that conservation agricultural practices can be employed to have sustainable farming. These techniques, currently employed in Brazil, many parts of Western Europe and the U.S. clearly show that farming can be practiced without sacrificing yield. It also indicates that yield has little to do with use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Tillage is not encouraged at all whereas crop rotation and other techniques are used to for long-term soil conservation. The techniques are also used for reduced need for water especially in arid to semi-arid areas, and to remove pests and weeds.

Sriram

Kochi

Awareness necessary

First of all people should be made aware of the dangers of chemical fertilisers and its harmful effects. It is a known fact that pesticide residue in agriculture produce is much higher than permissible levels. Agriculture Department and environmental agencies should start monitoring the situation. Adequate steps to stop dangerous farming ways should be stopped.

K.K. Kunhi Kannan

Koyilandy

Educate farmers

Every grama panchayat in the State has constituted various committees for better administration. There are agricultural committees also.

The Agriculture Officer is the chairman of the committee and selected farmers are members. With the assistance of the members, the officer is supposed to convene a general body to discuss farming-related issues. These forums must discuss the excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Farmers should be advised to reduce the quantity of chemical fertilizers and supplement the shortage with organic fertilisers.

The Agriculture Department and Officer should work can always seek the guidance of the Agricultural Officer.

N. Ramachandran

Vaikkom

Farmers' role

The demand for pesticides and fertilizers, the vital constituents of modern agriculture practices, has increased recently due to the need to protect high yielding crops. Pesticides are more harmful as its constituents are poisonous chemicals. The current trend even upsets the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Correspondingly, the number of people affected is also alarmingly high. Many of the widely used pesticides are introduced before they are properly tested for their toxicity. Most of the pesticides degrade very slowly. In the meantime, pests get resistant to pesticides and this situation necessitates making stronger next-generation pesticides.

Whatever be the solution, farmers have a role in saving the environment.

Lini Mathew

Thrissur

Kozhikode

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