Same standard of testing pesticides in both domestic and foreign vegetables

Published On: March 2, 2023 10:05 AM NPT By: Dilip Paudel

KATHMANDU, March 2: While being criticized for delaying the implementation of pesticide testing standards for vegetables imported from India, the government has said that the standards for measuring the quality of all imported and indigenous vegetables are the same.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) has made it clear that the standards related to the 'maximum limit of pesticide residues' in vegetables and fruits are applicable to all domestic products and imported products.

Matina Joshi Vaidya, Director General of Department of Food Technology and Quality Control said that the standard for measuring the maximum limit of pesticide residue is applicable to all vegetables and food items sold in Nepal. She clarified that it applies to all those produced in Nepal and imported from abroad. "First, standards were made for 10 different vegetables.Additional standards have been prepared targeting all those grown within Nepal and imported," she said.

Similarly, Director General Vaidya claimed that the standard was not prepared targeting any country while the by the Council of Ministers was being criticized for returning the proposal of the standard for pesticide testing of vegetables coming from India. "The standards have not been made to target any country. They have been prepared according to the standards of the World Trade Organization," she said.

“In order to create an environment for consumers to consume quality vegetables and other food items, the government has made standards that are applicable to all without targeting any country,” Director General Vaidya said.

The MoALD has said that it is ready to take the proposal again as the Council of Ministers is being criticized that it has not approved the proposal and returned it. Last August, the proposal was sent by the Council of Ministers to the Economic and Infrastructure Committee for discussion. The ministry claims that after the new government was formed after the election, all proposals pending in the cabinet committee were withdrawn from the first meeting of the cabinet and it was returned on December 26. "A new proposal has been prepared and submitted by the Prime Minister," Prakash Sanjel, spokesperson of MoALD said, "A new proposal has been prepared."

The ministry had published it in the national gazette and sent it to the Council of Ministers for approval on August 31. According to the ministry, the approved standards were sent to the member countries of the World Trade Organization for suggestions, and no comments were received.

Spokesperson Sanjel claimed that the standards are not aimed at the production of any country and are in line with the provisions of the World Trade Organization. "According to the provisions in the Food Act, 1967, the same standard applies to food products that are produced, imported, exported and sold throughout Nepal," said spokesperson Sanjel, "The same standard applies to all domestic and foreign products."

According to Section 7 of the Food Act, 1967 regarding the quality of food items, the Codex Alimentarius Commission has been prepared based on food standards to determine the maximum limit of pesticides for six groups and 15 subgroups of various vegetables and four groups and 10 subgroups of fruits. As the government has already fixed the maximum limit of pesticide residues in various vegetables and food items, now it is going to prepare the standards for additional vegetables and food items and publish them in the gazette and implement them.

Based on the standards prepared by the government, goods entering Nepal should be tested at the customs. If the amount of pesticide residue that affects human health is found during vegetable testing, the sale and distribution of food including vegetables should be banned.

Since pesticides are used in vegetables and agricultural products, it is necessary to test how much of the pesticide residues there are. Although pesticides are dangerous for human health, it has been seen that all the pesticides used for pest and disease control in vegetables have not been tested and have seriously affected human health. So far, more than a dozen groups of pesticides are used in agricultural products including vegetables and fruits produced in the country and imported from abroad. Few of these groups are tested for pesticides, while many groups of pesticides are not tested.

According to the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Center, some pesticides such as organophosphate, carbamate and other insecticides are tested in the vegetables sold in the market as samples. Nepal does not have the technology and mechanism to test many pesticides. Pesticides are found not only in vegetables imported from India and other countries, but also in domestically produced vegetables. Along with food technology, pesticide residues in the Kalimati vegetable market are tested in the rapid analysis laboratory. The quantity of pesticides is also seen in domestically produced vegetables.

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