More pesticide residue testing labs to be set up soon

Kathmandu, October 13

The plan to construct additional pesticide residue testing laboratories is finally gaining momentum as Project for Agriculture Commercialisation and Trade (PACT) has started supplying necessary machinery equipment to areas where such labs were planned to be set up two years ago.

According to Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) — the authorised body to operate such labs — it will soon begin to operate such laboratories in Nepalgunj, Butwal, Pokhara, Biratnagar and Narayanghat once all required equipment are installed.

In the bid to address rising concerns related to excessive use of pesticides in vegetables and fruits, Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) in 2014 had announced plans to run such pesticide residue testing laboratories in different parts of the country.

While PPD was given the responsibility to operate these laboratories, PACT was said to be responsible to financially support the project by ensuring availability of necessary machinery equipment to set up such labs and its installation. Moreover, the government had immediately set up one such laboratory at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, which is still in operation, to discourage use of excessive chemicals in fruits and vegetables farming.

“After selecting contractors, PACT has already begun delivering required laboratory equipment to the five locations where pesticide residue testing laboratories were planned to be set up and all equipment will be delivered to the respective places within few weeks,” Dilli Ram Sharma, programme officer of PPD, told The Himalayan Times adding that contractors would install laboratories within two weeks after all equipment are delivered.

According to Sharma, PPD will start operating labs immediately after the contractor installs and hands them over to the directorate.

If everything goes as planned, Sharma believes that pesticide residue testing laboratories will come into operation within a few months.

Such laboratories use Rapid Bioassay for Pesticide Residue (RBPR) technology to test pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, consumer activists say that though setting up such pesticide residue testing labs in major fruits and vegetables market is good, the government should take such technologies to every vegetable and fruit collection centre and also make farmers aware about negative impact of excessive use of pesticides.

“Vegetables and fruits available in the market today continue to be laden with high levels of pesticide residue. Excessive use of chemicals should be discouraged and punished as it is directly related to human health,” Madhav Timalsina, president of Consumers’ Right Investigation Forum (CRIF), said.