Banning of 27 pesticides decision by Union Agriculture Ministry likely this week.
The Union Agriculture Ministry is expected to consider the expert panel’s guidelines on a proposed ban on 27 pesticides this week. However, industry experts are skeptical that an immediate decision will be made as a result of a change in ministry officials.
According to sources, the Agriculture Ministry may hold an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss the proposed ban in light of the Rajendran committee report. Also Read | 27 pesticides are being considered for the ban, an expert committee to look into it.
In May 2020, the government issued a draft notification welcoming stakeholders’ comments and suggestions on the banning of 27 pesticides: atrazine, acephate, butachlor, benfuracarb, captan, carbofuran, carbendazin, chlorpyriphos, deltamethrin, dinocap, dicofol, dimethoate, diuron, methimyl, malathion, mancozeb, monocrotophos, oxyfluorfen, quninalphos, pendimethalin, sulfosulfuron, thiophante methyl, thiodicarb, thiram, zineb and ziram.
Committee of experts
However, at the request of stakeholders and with the intervention of Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the deadline for receiving objections and suggestions was extended from 45 days to 90 days. Later, in January 2021, the ministry established an expert committee chaired by T P Rajendran, former assistant director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), to consider the objections and suggestions, taking into account all aspects related to safety, toxicity, efficacy, the updated status of submission of required study and data, technical and scientific requirements, the availability of safer substitutes, farmer interests, and ban status in other countries.
Despite the fact that the committee was asked to submit its report within three months, it is believed that the report was received by the ministry in November 2021. The proposed ban on 27 pesticides is part of a larger effort to phase out 66 toxic pesticides. The government had refused to register 18 of them.
Farmers may have to pay more
So far, the Ministry of Agriculture has prohibited or phased out the import, manufacture, or sale of 46 pesticides and four pesticide formulations in the country. In addition, eight pesticide registrations have been withdrawn, five pesticides have been banned for domestic use but are permitted for export, and nine pesticides have been restricted in use.
Also Read | Experts panel to study and review the proposed ban on 27 pesticides.
According to industry sources, the current production value of these 27 pesticides is around ₹10,300 crore, of which ₹6,000 crore (or 58% of the total) is exported. ‘If domestic sales (export may be exempted) of these pesticides are prohibited, farmers may be forced to pay an additional₹ 2,000 crore for imported alternatives,’ an industry official said. According to an industry source, because the new agriculture secretary took office last week, he may take some time to research the issue.