Ditya Lamichhaney

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Published On: February 12, 2018 09:27 AM NPT By: Ditya Lamichhaney

Pesticide use in commercial vegetable production in Nepal

Nepal is taking steps towards agricultural diversification and commercialization which has shown hopes for improvement of country’s economy, decreased unemployment and importation of agricultural products and increased women’s participation in contribution to national economy. But the commercialization has brought a serious threat along with it which is of major concern. The use of chemical pesticides in the commercialization pocket areas in overdose, unsafe and uncontrolled manner has not only invited the dangerous pest whose control is getting difficult but also has resulted to the serious health hazards in growers and consumers. 

Kathmandu gets to enjoy not only a variety of seasonal vegetables but also the off season vegetable crops produced in the commercialization pocket areas surrounding it. The vegetable crops consumed here are made available from neighboring districts like Kavre, Makwanpur, Dhading and also from Bara, Parsa and Chitwan where 11 percent of the crops produced in those areas are utilized there and remaining 89 percent are produced targeting the Kathmandu market.  But in the name of commercial and off season crop production in those pocket areas there is being huge increase in use of pesticides that has brought huge negative impact on human health and environment. 

Pesticides, the chemicals that are applied to control the pest is not a problem if applied in the recommended dose and correct application manner but the haphazard use of the pesticides in overdose without following any kinds of safety measures ( even basic) not giving priorities to the application manner and time of application and most importantly not waiting for  the period it should  be waited before being disposed to the market has brought environment and life of growers and consumers of these pocket areas and consumer’s area in danger. Also Pesticides trading in these areas are taken like normal trading of everyday supplies. The pesticides are being sold on groceries, liquor shops and agrovets and most of the sellers of pesticides are not trained professionals.

 The key cause of the problem in these areas is that the farmers consider pesticide as a medicine not as a poison. Also they are aware about the pesticide harm but only in the surface level. Most of them spray pesticide unnecessarily just because other farmers in the society do it. They apply the pesticides in the higher dose than recommended because of the belief that the recommended dose will not be effective enough on pest. They believe on instant result and don’t think about long term harm as the pesticide applied field looks fertile and green. Only 67percent of the farmers have knowledge on the waiting period out of which only 46% of farmers wait for the time before they are supplied to markets. 

With the time there is being increase in women’s participation in commercial agriculture which has brought positive impacts like their increased contribution to national economy but the lack of proper knowledge on correct use of pesticides in commercial crop production has exposed them to several issues. Women  in the field are aware of  the safety measures that need to be followed  but are not ready to follow it as they don’t  have detail information and knowledge on the harm it can cause in their personal health and their family health as they are the ones who run the family and perform household chores.  
The farmers especially women suffer from simple irritation problems and rashes due to avoidance of the simple precaution measures, burning skin as they apply fertilizer carelessly without giving attention to the direction of spraying to dangerous skin problems due to the leakage of pesticide on their bare feet and body due to leakage of tanks and respiratory problems to lung cancer due to inhaling of pesticides by application of pesticide in high heat at daytime i.e application at the time whenever they are free. They also have observed the symptoms like eye irritation, throat pain, vomiting, nausea, fever, headache and sweating with the route of entry of pesticides as eyes, skin, lungs and mouth. They cause persistent and acute injury to nervous system, lung damage, injury of reproductive organs, dysfunction of the immune system, birth effects and cancer. Pesticides can even contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects and non-target plants. The easy access of pesticides has also increased the suicidal case in those areas of women and children. 

To control the unwanted and haphazard use of pesticides in commercial crop production, the government should come up with strong extension team with large scale mass awareness campaign about potential harm and environmental and human hazards. Intensive training must be given to the agrovets about safe handling of pesticides. The use of biological pesticides must be encouraged. Further researches, implementation and continuity to Integrated Pest Management approach are suitable.

Lamichhaney is the student of BSC(AG) at Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences & Technology (HICAST), Kalanki.

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