KATHMANDU, Jan 3: Awareness programs aimed at curbing use of pesticides and insecticides have largely been a failure.
Though the government has been organizing 'No Pesticide Use Week' since 2013, import data of such harmful chemicals reveal that there is no substantial change in the quantity of pesticides imported in the country.
A report on status of pesticide use in the country prepared by the Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) shows that there has not been any remarkable change in the number of pesticides used in the country.
Nepal imported 1,629 tons of pesticides and insecticides in Fiscal Year 2013/14. The import of such chemicals further rose to 1,738 tons in FY 2014/15. In 2015/16, such imports fell slightly to 1,640 tons.
Moreover, the amount of active ingredient in the pesticides has increased sharply in the same time period. A certain volume of pesticide is prepared by mixing water and the pest-killing chemicals. Active ingredient is the total amount of pest-killing chemicals in the pesticide. High level of these ingredients in pesticides is harmful to human health, crops, livestock, and the entire environment.
Despite rapid growth in the use of pesticides, the government has not brought any significant programs to curb use of pesticides other than the 'No Pesticide Use Week' and other interactions dedicated to lowering the use of pesticides in the country.
Officials of the directorate said that the use of pesticides cannot be controlled by the directorate. “Hence, the most we can do is make the people aware of the harmful impacts of the use of pesticides,” they added.
Ram Krishna Subedi, an information officer with the PPD, said that the government cannot lower the use of pesticides directly. “What we have been doing is make people aware of the proper use of pesticides in crops and the negative impacts of the use of pesticides. We also discourage excessive use of pesticides,” he added.
Dual policy of the government of allowing the import of pesticides and also making attempts to discourage its use has emerged as a major problem, according to experts.
Officials of the department, however, say that high import of pesticides is related to rapid commercialization of agricultural sector.
“Every farmer wants to increase their yields. It is natural for them to use pesticides for better output,” Subedi said, adding: “Commercialization of agriculture has emerged as the major obstacle in pesticide control.”
According to PPD, average use of pesticides in the country is 396 grams per hectare. But the crop-wise use of pesticides is very high. One and a half kilograms pesticide is used in a hectare of land cultivated with vegetables. Similarly, 2.1 kg of pesticides is used in a hectare of tea farms, officials of the department said.
About 200,000 people die annually from the toxic exposure to pesticides across the world, according to the United Nations.
Meanwhile, 'No Pesticide Use Week', a campaign used by Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) of Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), started throughout the country on Monday. Rallies, awareness programs, interactions against use of pesticides are some of the programs that the department is organizing this week.