DAMAK, Feb 28: Despite being aware about the health hazards, using chemical fertilizers and pesticides for cultivation of vegetables is not a choice but an obligation for a lot of farmers who have no idea regarding the procedures of making organic fertilizers.
Sukdev Adhikari of Jhapa, Gauradaha knew that it is possible to make fertilizers at home, but he doesn't know the process. Nor has anyone ever taught him.
He cultivated mustard and potatoes with the help of chemical fertilizers bought from the market. There are hundreds of farmers like him, who rely on chemicals for better production of crops. In Damak, 32 metric tons of pesticides are supplied each year. Reportedly, 40% of the pesticides is used for vegetables while another 40% is used by tea farmers.
Adhikari's neighbor Rudra Poudel laments that there is no other option than using chemicals. "It is not possible to have good production without using fertilizers. We lack skills to make organic fertilizers," said Poudel.
According to the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), pesticides are extensively used in vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflowers, cabbage and chilli.
Rajendra Kharel, crop conservation officer at the DADO, informed that professional farming has further increased the use of pesticides. He further informed that farmers should be made aware about the harmful effects of chemicals on health of the consumers, to reduce their use.
Farmers on the other hand say that they are aware about the harmful effects of chemicals but still they have no choice. "We know that pesticides increase the vegetable production but badly affect the human health. But we cannot make good crops without pesticides," said Khadga Phuyal, a farmer of Gauradaha. Unavailability of organic fertilizers in most of the markets has further increased the use of chemicals.
There are some diseases in crops which cannot be killed without the use of chemicals. In such case, farmers need to be careful enough to use the right proportion of pesticides, according to Kharel. "Vegetables and crops need the fertilizers in right time and right amount and the farmers need to be aware of it," said crop conservation officer Kharel.
With the objective of minimizing excessive use of pesticides, the local government in recent days is found making some efforts. Damak Municipality has already started making the locals aware about the importance and use of organic and domestic fertilizers. Prioritizing the health of the locals, Romnath Oli, mayor of the municipality, has urged the locals to minimize the use of pesticides. "We have targeted to make Damak free from the use of pesticides in the near future," said Mayor Oli.
Meanwhile, Kamal Rural Municipality is also planning to conduct awareness programs to produce vegetables with low pesticide residue. Likewise, Birtamod Municipality has also introduced a law to discourage the use of pesticides.