Farmer deaths due to pesticides: CropLife India expresses concern

While responding to the news of recent deaths of farmers in Maharashtra due to pesticides, the CropLife India says it has been spreading awareness among farmers about spurious and illegal crop protection products


New Delhi: The wrong usage of pesticides due to low awareness can cause huge loss of lives as well as crops. The recent deaths of farmers in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra are an example of that. The situation is extremely grim as 19 farmers have lost their lives while 49 are in the hospitals, struggling between life and death. While the deaths are being widely mourned by all the stakeholders, it is the time for the Government to get to the root cause of the issue.

The issue has garnered attention from the National Human Rights Commision (NHRC) that has issued a notice to the Maharashtra government and the Union government. Meanwhile, the state government has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the role of all involved in the business of pesticides including manufacturers, dealers, suppliers including those online would be thoroughly scrutinised.

The pesticides companies point out that the crop protection products are registered in India after rigorous risk assessment on the safety aspects. However, they blame its use in unsafe conditions without proper safety precautions on the adverse impact. So is it to do more with awareness or the products used by farmers are not verified by authorities.

The CropLife India says that mostly it is the lack of awareness of few farmers. In its statement issued on 11th October, the company has expressed its deep concern over recent reports of the loss of lives and said that it is committed to work closely with Government and other agencies to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future.

Mr Brij Uberoi, CEO, CropLife India, said “CropLife India regularly engages with farmers and other stakeholders in generating awareness and building capacity through its stewardship programs advocating safe and Judicious and need based use of Crop Protection Products, spreading awareness among farmers about spurious and Illegal Crop Protection Products, use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) while spraying these products and safe disposal of used containers”.

He added, “CropLife India, and its members, over the past many years have been working with the various central and state departments of agriculture on raising awareness about good crop protection practices, to minimize farmers’ losses caused due to biotic stresses on crops, in a sustainable manner. CropLife India members, regularly organize farmers training programs emphasizing the need safe and judicious use of crop protection chemicals with right time, dosage, spraying equipment and use of PPE during spraying. Its members have been distributing free kits in many parts of the country to raise awareness levels.

The need of the times is that all the stakeholders including government agencies, industry and local level leaders will have to raise awareness among the farmers. The companies like CropLife must play an important role in the production of safe food and responsible use of crop protection products and the same will continue, with a clear focus on improving farmers’ income and enhancing their safety.