The government is planning or restrict use of glyphosate
, a popular herbicide used to control weeds in tea plantations – a proposal that has upset industry.
The agriculture ministry, in a draft notification, has restricted the use of glyphosate only through Pest Control Operators (PCOs).
“No person shall use glyphosate except through Pest Control Operators,” the draft notification read. The ministry has given 30 days for objections or suggestions on the draft order dated July 8, 2020.
Recently, the agriculture ministry had issued a draft notification for banning 27 pesticides for which suggestions and objections are being invited.
The draft order also states that all holders of certificate of registration granted for glyphosate and its derivatives shall return their certificates to the Registration Committee for incorporation of the warning in bold letters ‘The use of glyphosate formulation to be allowed through Pest Control Operators (PCOs)’ on the label and leaflets.
“If any person who holds the certificate of registration fails to return the certificate to the Registration Committee, referred to in Clause (3), within a period of three months, action shall be taken under the provisions contained in the Insecticides Act,” it read.
The industry has strongly objected to the move of government restricting glyphosate use.
“The role of PCOs is highly questionable. Normally these operators work in urban areas for pest control in the households. They have no experience and are not present in any of the rural markets nor are they technically competent to undertake such exercise. The concept of PCOs is an after thought to misguide the industry,” said Harish Mehta, senior advisor to Crop Care Federation of India (CCIF), an association of pesticide manufacturers.
He said that glyphosate is the cheapest weedicide in the market which saves lot of labour.
“It costs Rs 250-300 a litre with effective control for over 45 days in just one application. With nonavailability of labour and limited season glyphosate has wide acceptance in Indian agriculture,” Mehta said.
According to industry, over 90 Indian companies are engaged in manufacturing and distribution of both ammonium and IPA salt of generic glyphosate.
“Glyphosate is one of the largest segments of the pesticide industry, with Indian market size pegged at over Rs 1100 crore,” he said.
The move to restrict glyphosate is likely to be aimed at controlling the spread of illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton, which more farmers are seen planting this year.
“Cotton (HT) growers use glyphosate to kill weeds as cotton (HT) is glyphosate resistant. So, by banning glyphosate, government is trying to discourage farmers from growing (HT) cotton, which is economical as it saves human labour. But this can be counterproductive as glyphosate may be sold in black market like (HT) cotton seeds,” said an industry official, who did not wish to be named.
Rajesh Agarwal, managing director, Insecticides India Ltd, said that the decision may hurt sales.
“The government’s decision is difficult to implement and may hurt sales. The use of PCOs for spraying would also add to the costs of the farmers,” he said.
Source: The Economic Times