What are the flaws in the existing laws for pesticide management in the country? Discuss in the light of proposed Pesticide Management Bill 2017.
Pesticide Management Bill 2017 is being introduced in the Parliament on the backdrop of recent deaths of farmers in Vidarbha, Maharashtra. October witnessed death of tens of farmers due to pesticide infection and 1000 others suffered with critical ailments. This Bill is a follow up to the Pesticide Management Act, 2008 which was launched for the same reasons but has critical flaws.
- A major role is played by the widespread sale of misbranded pesticides. The lack of proper inspection and regulatory framework is encouraging sale of substandard and expired pesticides.
- The Big pesticide industries which outsource production to smaller companies remain immune to any violations. Only the small manufacturer is answerable.
- The pesticides in order to be declared unfit for agriculture, should fail the sample test consecutively. The prolonged documentation of the first sample leads to the expiration of second sample before it is tested. Thus, the whole process remains invalid.
- The power to suspend sale of substandard pesticide lies with magistrate. further burdening the already burdened legal staff.
- Incentivising retailers according to their sales. sellers in turn pushing pesticides over farmers above the required quantity to earn better rewards.
- State government cannot ban sale of a pesticide for more than 60 days. Limited powers vested with the state government in testing, registration and regulating sales is causing delay to take any action.
The new bill proposed should take care of all such flaws and strengthen the pesticide regulatory framework in the country. Provisions of the new bill should include the following,
- State governments should be given adequate powers to test and regulate sales of pesticides.
- A stringent system should be put in place to collect data of all the agricultural inputs.
- Introduction of bar codes on products will prevent adulteration and substandard pesticides.
- Power to suspend sale should be given to pesticide inspector rather than magistrate.
- Big pesticide companies should be made accountable and not the outsourced small manufacturer. Strong framework of legal penalties should be put in place to handle violations.
The Pesticide Management Bill, 2017 thus should act as a step towards achieving the government’s promise to double the income of farmers and improve the quality of life of farmers.