Rampant pesticide use risks health

KATHMANDU: Most of the commercially produced vegetables available in the market are found to be unsafe for consumption, thanks to an excessive use of chemicals during their cultivation.

“We are consuming poison along with vegetables,” scientist Ram Babu Paneru at Nepal Agricultural Research Council told this daily. “The farmers have been using pesticides and insecticides excessively in the farms, posing a threat to human health.”

Paneru said he recently visited vegetable farms in Charaudi and Mahadevsthan villages of Dhading, Empaphant and Baradi of Tanahun and Tutunga village of Kaski districts. “Unprescribed use of chemicals is harmful for both the farmers and consumers,” he said. “It spoils the taste of vegetables and has environmental hazards.”

Consumption of such chemicals affects the nervous system and can cause impotence, lever and kidney dysfunction. They also render disability in children and miscarriage in women, in addition to causing the ailments of skin, heart and eye.

Paneru found that the farmers used the chemicals at wrong intervals. “I was shocked to hear that they mix pesticides, insecticides and vitamins together before spraying in the fields,” he said. The vegetables must not be consumed before certain days of pesticide application. Farmers were found to be immediately sending the products off to the markets.

Dr Shree Baba Pradhan, senior entomologist at NARC, blamed the government for the sorry state of affairs.

“There are no effective policies and the implementation of the existing ones,” she said. “Consumers should be made aware about their rights and the agro-vets need to be provided training on pesticide dealing.”

Jeevan Prabha Lama, deputy director general, Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, said they were facing difficulty in carrying out the tests due to poor facilities in the labs and staff crunch. She said markets had been warned against the sale of such products.