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Ficci report: One-third of Indian pesticides are dangerous fakes

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Counterfeit pesticides can do lasting damage to agriculture
Counterfeit pesticides can do lasting damage to agriculture

Related tags: Food security

The use of fake pesticides use may jeopardise India’s status as leading exporter of food grains, fruits and vegetable, Ficci has warned.

Releasing a report on spurious agricultural chemicals, the chambers of commerce group said that agrochemicals were essential to boosting agricultural productivity, and their manufacturers should play a substantial role in wiping out fakes.  

Worth around INR250bn (US$3.8bn), India’s pesticides industry is fairly well developed, said JS Sandhu, deputy director general of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and agriculture commissioner to the government.

However around 30% of the agrochemicals on the market are “counterfeit, spurious, adulterated or sub-standard​”, the report claimed. With their share growing by 20% per year, and if the issue is not addressed, 40% of all pesticides on the market could be counterfeit by 2019.

Beyond crop loss and damage to soil fertility, the use of non-genuine products could also lead to loss of revenue for farmers, genuine manufacturers and the government. 

The Ficci report suggested that fake pesticides could account for 10.6m tonnes of lost production this year, alongside irreversible environmental damage due to soil degradation through unknown illegal chemicals.

The rejection of Indian produce exports by countries concerned about the chemicals produce contains could cost the country US$26bn; while missed fruit and vegetable exports could cost a further US$1.4bn, the report warned.

SL health minister demands tough response to NCD epidemic

Sri Lanka’s health minister has called for increased taxes on imported foods that contain excessive sugar, salt and oil.

Increasing the tax burden on these items would help control the rapid spread of non-communicable diseases, Rajitha Senaratne told a gathering in Colombo last week.

Nearly one-third of Sri Lankans now die from heart disease, equating 6,000 deaths each year, he said.

"All those diseases are caused because of the taste. Smoking, alcohol etc are still very tasty for some people​," Separatne said, adding that a strategy was needed to lower the instance of non-communicable diseases by 65% within the next five years.

The minister said he would allocate funds to this end through his ministry, though he stressed that it should be a cross-government effort.

"The education ministry should educate the people on the negative impacts of smoking, alcohol and unhealthy food trends, while the Sports Ministry should promote physical activities​," he said. 

Separate also suggested that the physical fitness of civil servants should be considered before they were granted promotions.

FAO applauds Nepal’s constitutional food rights provisions

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation has welcomed Nepal's new constitution, which has enshrined the right to food as a fundamental right for its citizens.

President Ram Baran Yadav unveiled the constitution last month after it was approved by 507 out of 601 parliamentary lawmakers.

The FAO called the constitution a “milestone of paramount importance for the country​”, having supported the dialogue on food security, right to food and other related matters in Nepal for years. 

Article 36 (1) of the constitution ensures right to food for every citizen, and is followed by further articles that safeguard the right to be protected against food scarcity; the right to food sovereignty. Meanwhile, Article 42—the right to social justice—includes provisions on food.

"Enshrining the right to food in the new constitution of Nepal is a moment of paradigm importance​", said Somsak Pipoppinyo, the FAO’s representative in Nepal, adding that he hoped that food insecurity would be tackled in every district in the country.

Spice update: Chilli princes through the roof, though ginger has stabilised

Indian chilli prices have increased by over 20% since the beginning of the year, supported by adverse weather and a virus infection in some of the main growing regions. 

According to commodities analyst Mintec, plantings have been delayed in regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka due to lower rainfall, while the crop in Madhya Pradesh has been damaged by virus, resulting in lower yields.

Pepper prices remain at an historical high following lower production in Vietnam, the main producer, coupled with low global stocks and higher global consumption. Production in Vietnam is projected to decline in this year to 145,000 tonnes, down 6% from 155,000 tonnes a year ago, due to unfavourable weather during early growing stages. 

Stocks have fallen from over 300,000 tonnes in 2005 to around 120,000 tonnes in 2014 as a result of growing global consumption.

Following volatility in ginger markets in 2014, ginger prices have stabilised this year, Mintec added. In the last couple of months, Indian ginger prices have fallen slightly prior to the arrival of a new crop. However, prices remain significantly higher when compared to historic prices, indicating stronger demand for fresh ginger, mainly from the domestic market.

Cardamom prices have seen a 15% decline over the last twelve months. Indian production in 2015 is expected to be around 25,000 tonnes, 25% higher compared to the 20,000 tonnes produced last year. This year’s crop has been supported by favourable growing conditions in the main producing regions.

Gujarat shrimp farm debuts India’s first automated harvester

WestCoast Group claims it will be the first Indian aquaculture company to import and use a shrimp harvester at its farms in Gujarat. 

Managing director Kamlesh Gupta said the technology would bring a sea-change in the quality of shrimp produced in India, which have traditionally been processed manually. 

Through this machine, the shrimp is in perfect condition, without any damage to their antennae or other appendages​,” he said, adding that the automated process would also deliver speed benefits.

Through a shrimp harvester, a compact, mobile unit which works on diesel engine and can be operated in any remote location, shrimp have minimal exposure to outside temperatures as they are transferred through pond water into an ice slurry. 

It is also more gentle on the shrimp, so that even the antennae remain intact—an important factor when market appeal depends largely on appearance. Any head drooping of the animal is easily controlled due to minimal human handling of the product, Gupta added. 

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