ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research is gearing up to launch an awareness campaign to make farmers understand the risks of toxic substances. The move came after the FAO urged developing countries to withdraw highly hazardous pesticides from their markets.
FAO says that the entire distribution and disposal cycle for highly hazardous pesticides carries significant risks, and safeguards are difficult to ensure in many countries.
Federal Minister for National Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan told representatives of Pesticides Association that the ministry would make efforts to ensure timely availability of quality pesticides at competitive prices to farmers.
The association informed the minister that the imposition of general sales tax (GST) on the import of pesticides has opened door for illegal trade of pesticides, because of which the quality of pesticides has suffered.
The association demanded immediate cut in the GST.
The FAO’s warning came after a recent incident in Bihar in which 23 students were killed after eating school meal contaminated with monocrotophos (an organophosphorus pesticide that is considered highly hazardous).
Experience in many developing countries shows that distributing and using such highly toxic products very often pose a serious risk to human health and the environment.
The international organisations, including FAO, the World Health Organization and the World Bank, are in agreement that highly hazardous products should not be available to small farmers who lack knowledge and the proper sprayers, protective gear and storage to manage such products appropriately.
The FAO suggests that non-chemical and less toxic alternatives are available, and in many cases, Integrated Pest Management can provide adequate pest management that is more sustainable and reduces use of pesticides.