Kathmandu, July 6
Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Ltd (NACCFL) — an umbrella organisation representing the country’s small farmers — has urged the government not to step back from its decision of testing pesticides in vegetables imported from India. NACCFL has claimed that the decision of the government to allow vegetables to enter the country without conducting pesticide test will harm consumers in the long run.
“It should have been done many years ago, but the government delayed in taking this decision. And now finally when it did impose the rule, it is stepping back from its initiative,” said Khem Bahadur Pathak, president of NACCFL. Rather than stopping testing pesticides citing lack of required equipment to conduct tests of all types of pesticides, it would be better to continue testing the pesticide levels for which it can and upgrade the quarantine system, he added.
Pathak further said that since pesticides are not being tested in vegetables, the government also cannot punish any wrongdoer if there are any. “In this situation, our request with the government is to continue testing pesticides at the border points,” he said, “The government must take the responsibility for consumers’ health. Like they say ‘prevention is better than cure’.”
Meanwhile, Pathak claimed that this is a result of not listening to Nepali farmers regarding developing the country’s agricultural sector.
“Small farmers have recommended the government frequently to manage the market for local produce for supply of quality foods. However, the government has ignored us,” he claimed.
Amidst this, NACCFL also published a statement on Friday demanding the government to upgrade the quarantine system and instal the required equipment to test all types of pesticides in vegetables. “As we all are aware that Nepali consumers are consuming substandard vegetables every day, the government must take a stand on healthy vegetables being supplied in the market. Hence, NACCFL urges the government to build full-fledged quarantine system at the border points and continue testing pesticides in vegetables imported from India,” reads the statement.
The statement further states that the government needs to operate pesticide testing centres across the country effectively. Besides, the major focus of the government should be on increasing domestic production and productivity, the statement added.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies revoked its decision to check pesticides in vegetables imported from India during the Cabinet meeting held on Thursday citing the lack of technical preparations and pressure from traders.
A version of this article appears in print on July 07, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.