Industry needs to clear negative perception about use of agrochemicals, says Khuba

Industry needs to clear negative perception about use of agrochemicals, says Khuba

Leading agrochemical companies and policy makers deliberated on burning issues and way forward to drive agrochemicals growth at FICCI's 10th Agrochemicals Conference

  • By ICN Bureau | September 24, 2021

Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, reiterated the government of India’s commitment to achieve its goal of doubling the farmers' income by 2022 while speaking at the 10th Agrochemical Conference organized by industry chamber Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

Sharing an example, Tomar mentioned, "Recently during my visit to the Kashmir valley, local farmers at the Saffron Park set up by the government told me that they were able to double their income from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh per kilogram now due to improved techniques. They can now grade their produce and do packaging by this technique. There are many other instances where we have seen how farmers have recorded a better income. Government is trying hard to bridge the gaps and improve the farmers' income. India's young generation must connect with agriculture and for that adoption of technology is of paramount importance. Be it chemical based or organic farming, farmers must adopt various types of fertilizers and farming practices which suit them well. At the same time, we have to strike a balance between biofertilizers and the agrochemicals to move forward."

"We must put a lot of onus on innovation and technology. If we innovate the molecules indigenously through intense R&D, we can always have an edge over other countries. If this sector gets good growth, it will benefit the overall growth of this nation. There are many examples where the chemical residue levels have been found at higher levels, leading to rejection of food products. I request the agrochemical manufacturers to collaborate with the academic institutes and farmers so that the negative perception against the  agrochemicals is understood and addressed properly," said Bhagwanth Khuba, Minister of State, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers and Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

"When critics compare India's lower production performance with China, they forget that the latter has a lower food index on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) list and the country continues to be the largest food importer in the world. In India, agrochemicals played a significant role during the green revolution when large chunks of saline land were made cultivable. Even today the chemicals have a role to play in pre-harvesting and post-harvesting stages. Therefore, the talk of complete exclusion of such chemicals from farming may not augur well for the sector. At the same time, industry must reflect why it is criticized often and must come up with ways to drive awareness on the right use of chemicals among people. The acceptability of chemicals can get better if you adopt a few relevant bio-based applications," said Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog, Government of India. 

Calling for the due recognition of the agrochemical industry, R. G. Agarwal, Chairman, FICCI Crop Protection Committee & Group and Chairman, Dhanuka Agritech Ltd. said, "Our yield per hectare at 2 tonnes per hectare is very low as compared to global levels of average 3 tonnes per hectare. At the same time, a meagre 300 grams of pesticide per hectare consumption directly affects the production. While the pesticide industry did receive some priority during lockdown, agrochemicals are looked down as something bad. Time has come that everybody acknowledges our role in agriculture and the industry is given its due." 

"It is unfortunate that none of the pesticide testing labs in the country are National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) certified and even the instruments are old or outdated, thus defeating the very purpose of quality. The Pesticide Management Bill must address it," added Agarwal.

Expressing confidence over India's fast improving regulatory environment, Peter Ford, President Asia Pacific, Corteva Agriscience said, "During COVID-19, India has shown the way. As an example of resilience, we have witnessed great collaboration between industry, academia and government. Positive regulatory action around Fall Armyworm and locust attacks has been phenomenal. For a more sustainable environment, we need to have a more predictive regulatory system and incentivize the investment. The fast tracked registration mechanism by the agriculture ministry will be helpful to bring forth more sustainable technology. The regulatory reform is being curiously looked upon by the industry as to how it will help in bringing the new molecules to the farmers. It will drive the growth agenda in the Indian farm and also provide the first mover advantage to the country for global technologies and opportunity to lead the supply chains."

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