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RA062610_Pesticides_in_Indira_Devi_P

RA062610_Pesticides_in_Indira_Devi_P - REVIEW OF...

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REVIEW OF AGRICULTURE Economic & Political Weekly EPW June 26, 2010 vol xlv nos 26 & 27 199 The project, “Pesticide Use in Food Crops of Kerala” was funded by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. Thanks to the South Asian Network for Development and Environmen- tal Economics and Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment for funding the project and all those who helped in the implementation. Indira Devi P ( [email protected]) is with the Kerala Agriculture University, Thrissur, Kerala. Pesticides in Agriculture – A Boon or a Curse? A Case Study of Kerala Indira Devi P This paper analyses the pesticide use pattern in agriculture and associated management system in Kerala. The recent declining rate in total consumption of pesticides is not a sign of relief as the use of harmful chemicals is rising. The pesticides used in agriculture include chemicals, which are banned and those suggested for restricted use only. The spray fluid concentration and handling pattern are unscientific. The awareness level is very low, which can be attributed to poor training support. The data management and monitoring system is not efficient. The present level of investment in chemical pest control is higher than the optimum and is not economically justified. A visible parallel correlation between higher productivity, high chemical input use and environmental degradation and human health effects is evident in many countries where commercial agriculture is widespread. Pesticide use in agriculture and the value of negative externalities are well- documented in Sri Lanka (Van Der Hoek et al 1998; Wilson 2000), Lebanon (Salameh et al 2004), India (Gupta 2004), China (Huang et al 2001), Bangladesh (Rehman 2003), Philippines (Rola and Pingali 1993), Mali (Ajayi 2002), Ecuador (Yanggen et al 2003), Zimbabwe (Maumbe and Swinton 2003) and Vietnam (Dung and Dung 1999). These externalities are reported to be very high and show a rising trend in many of the developing countries ( WHO 1990; DTE 2001; Rosenstock et al 1991; Pimentel 1992; Kishi et al 1995; WRI 1998). At the same time, the consump- tion of pesticides in these parts of the world is comparatively less. This paradox is mainly attributed to the unscientific use and han- dling practices which are attributed to the general poverty level, low literacy rate and awareness, general lethargy in adopting sci- entific management practices, an inefficient monitoring system and the climatic factors. Furthermore, the decision to invest in chemical pest control operations is governed by risk perceptions of farmers (Devi et al 2007). The financial rationality based on marginal returns is not considered in decision-making, thus, resulting in inefficient levels of investment and spiralling effects. The socio-economic scenario in the agricultural sector in many of the developing countries warrants the substitution of labour with machines and chemicals, at a faster pace (Huang and Rozelle 1996). The emerging agricultural scenario in favour of agribusiness is likely to increase the use of pesticides further and the resultant environmental and human health problems thereof.
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