Kathmandu, February 13
The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) is preparing to build pesticide testing laboratories equipped with the latest technology in all seven provinces.
After the issue of testing pesticides on imported fruits and vegetables garnered much attention last year, the department had announced it was installing pesticide testing equipment in 12 checkpoints of the country and that it would establish the divisional offices of DoFTQC in all seven provinces.
According to Mohan Krishna Maharjan, the procedures of establishing divisional offices has been taken forth and will be completed by next fiscal year. Meanwhile, for the pesticide testing of vegetables, fruits and livestock products, the department is bringing in rapid bioassay of pesticide residue (RBPR) equipment and installing it at 12 checkpoints of the country. He, however, said that the checkpoints have not been decided yet.
Currently, there are seven pesticide processing centres across the country — in Birtamode, Sarlahi, Pokhara, Butwal, Nepalgunj, Attariya and Kathmandu. Among them, the central pesticide testing centre located in Kalimati market can test pesticide residue of 29 types of chemical groups, while the other six can test only two groups of pesticides — phosphate and carbonate groups.
As per Maharjan, the newly installed equipment will be able to test a total of 20 types of pesticides.
“The process of issuing tender for the procurement of RBPR equipment is underway and the equipment will be purchased by the end of this fiscal year,” Maharjan said. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has allocated Rs 150 million in this fiscal year for the procurement of RBPR equipment.
As per Maharjan, other laboratory equipment will be procured and installed in the next fiscal year.
“We do not have enough time to procure other lab equipment in the current fiscal year,” he explained, “So we have decided to carry out procurement process for other equipment as a multi-year project.”
The remaining equipment will be purchased along with the establishment of new buildings for pesticide testing, Maharjan added. The procurement of the remaining equipment is estimated to cost around Rs 120 million.
According to Sachit Kumar Waiba, information officer at DoFTQC, the equipment procurement process was stalled due to the delay in issuance of budget from the Ministry of Finance. “Because of the delay in releasing the budget by the finance ministry, we could not bring the equipment on time,” he added.
A version of this article appears in print on February 13, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.