After Centre's protocols applied, Maha reports zero pesticide-related deaths

Shiv Sena (UBT)'s farmer-face Kishore Tiwari said that in 2016-2017, more than 40 farm workers in the state lost their lives while spraying insecticides

Representative Image (DW Photo)
Representative Image (DW Photo)


After the Centre's protocols for spraying insecticides in farmlands were implemented in 2018, Maharashtra has reported zero pesticide-related deaths of farm workers, a leading activist said on Monday.

Shiv Sena (UBT)'s farmer-face Kishore Tiwari said that in 2016-2017, more than 40 farm workers in the state lost their lives while spraying insecticides in their fields, especially cotton farms, besides more deaths elsewhere in the country.

"Following our strong pressures, the Centre had implemented a set of protocols from 2018 which have been rigorously implemented in the farmlands. The results are impressive with zero pesticide-related deaths in Maharashtra," Tiwari pointed out.

Among the set of rules prescribed by the government are the use of full body kit while spraying the deadly insecticides, ban on daytime spraying as it created toxicity, using drones to spray in the fields, monitoring water quality, among others.

After studying the outcome for five years, Tiwari has written a letter to Dr. J.P. Singh, Plant Protection Advisor in the Union Ministry of Agriculture, of the protocol's impact in Maharashtra cotton farms.

"Farmers are now fully in support of these positive protocols on insecticides use. They are not only protecting the farmers and farm workers from the related health hazards, but also proving to be cost-effective and helping boost farm incomes," Tiwari pointed out.

Besides, he informed Dr. Singh that the domestically manufactured insecticides are effective and affordable compared to the very expensive imported varieties which led to sharpAincrease in the input costs for the farmers.

Tiwari, the former Chairman of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), said cotton is a highly 'input-intensive crop' owing to its longer duration in the field, making it susceptible to attacks by pests like Pink BollWorms, White Fly, Thrips, Jassids, etc.

Smaller farmers with less than one hectares land could not afford the required six-seven different insecticide sprays as the new products cost more than Rs 10,000/litre, adding hugely to other costs like expensive labour, fertilisers, diesel, mechanisation,.

:Most agriculturists, particularly the small farmers have been using the traditional insecticides like the Monocrotophos family that is safe for humans, effective against cotton insects, and doubled the cotton growers' yield. Hence, the cultivators have hailed the Centre's move to continue the use of 24 insecticides based on the scientific data of experts," Tiwari said.

The move followed a major pilot project in 2017 through multiple agencies like Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Agriculture University, Akola, Department of Agriculture, medicos, and other experts carried out on the issue among the cotton farmers.

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