Stakeholders call for reduction in use of chemicals in agricultural produce

Kathmandu, October 18

Stakeholders have emphasised on the need to minimise the use of harmful pesticides and insecticides in agricultural produce, which is at alarming levels in Nepal.

Speaking at a programme organised here today on the use of chemicals in agricultural produce in the country, they said that the trend of using excessive pesticides and insecticides for improved production of agriculture produce needs to be controlled timely to prevent possible negative effects of such chemicals on human health and the environment.

“Pesticides are used in almost every agriculture produce today and consumption of such chemicals is growing rapidly,” Bhupendra Devkota, founding principal of College of Applied Science said, adding that chemical usage is more alarming in fruits and vegetables as compared to other agriculture food products.

Informing that farmers are haphazardly using pesticides aiming of higher agricultural production, Devkota expressed that the country’s farmers need to be aware of health and environmental risks of using such chemicals.

“The government should disseminate information on various options for increasing agriculture production to farmers so that they are encouraged to minimise the use of harmful chemicals. One such option can be helping farmers to move their agriculture practice towards mechanisation,” Devkota added.

Devkota, however, said that wise use of such chemicals would be less harmful to human health and the environment. He also said that farmers should be made aware about proper disposal of these chemicals.

Meanwhile, Karisma Gurung, initiator of Agriculture Campaign for Food (ACF) said that use of pesticides and insecticides is increasing among Nepali farmers because smallholder farmers across the country are unable to afford costly technology to boost production. “Use of chemicals in food has to be reduced. However, farmers need government’s support to adopt newer technologies in the field,” Gurung added.

On the occasion, Rajib Das Rajbhandari, senior plant protection officer of Plant Protection Directorate (PPD), informed that excessive use of pesticides and insecticides can lead to infertility, cancer and paralysis, among other ailments. “Farmers should slowly shift towards organic farming and the government should encourage and support farmers to make the switch,” said Rajbhandari.

According to government statistics, 455 metric tonnes of pesticides and insecticides were imported in Nepal in fiscal year 2014-15. While government has allowed 117 types of such chemicals to be used in agricultural production in the country, it has put a ban on 16 different types of such chemicals.