Agriculture experts demand to set up authority to monitor pesticides use
September 11, 2012: Agriculture experts on Monday demanded of the government to establish ‘national food safety, animal and plant health regulatory authority’ to ensure strict monitoring of pesticides use, as it not only causing tremendous economic loss but also hazardous to human health.
“The international community has switched to safer pesticide as well as started strict monitoring of pesticides residue through an organised system because of its dangerous impact on crops. But Pakistan has no organised system for pesticide residue control” said Mubarik Ahmad Director General (DG) Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) addressing a briefing on Pesticides Residue in Exportable Horticulture Crops organised jointly by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and Parc.
He said pesticide was a hidden enemy therefore there was a dire need to control its excessive use. “Government needs to create awareness among public about the impact of pesticide residue on crops as well as constitute food security laws and food safety authority”, he said.
Mubarik Ahmad said that in the last two decades use of pesticides in developing world had increased while in Pakistan, pesticides use had increased to 25 times of the quantity used in 1982. “The indiscriminate use of pesticides not only causes economic loss, but also hazardous to human health. About 60 to 70 percent of the pesticide poisoning cases are reported due to occupational exposures. About 12 percent of the total use of pesticides in Pakistan is on fruits and vegetables dominated by Balochistan and KPK”, he said.
He said Pakistan exported a variety of fruits to many countries including mango, dates and citrus fruits, but unfortunately the indiscriminate use of pesticides on these commodities is threatening our exports. “According to a study as many as 12 percent of export commodities are rejected due to pesticides residue”, he said. He said that despite great potential to produce quality fruits in a large quantity, Pakistan was not among top 10 countries of fruits exporters.
Dr Iftikhar Ahmad, Senior Advisor on Programme Development, FAO, while speaking on the occasion, said that establishment of farmer filed school was one of the unique approaches to educate farmers about skills necessary for a modern market-oriented economy as well as impact of pesticides residue. “Farmer education is necessary for different issues including poverty alleviation and sustainable livelihoods, protection of the environment and natural resources, food safety, safe trade and international treaties.”
Itrat Rasool Malhi, Plant specialist at National Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (NPHIS), said that Pakistan lacked coherent strategy for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) management in relation to its trade. “Due to non compliance with food safety quality standards in export trade resulted in frequent rejection of agricultural exports consignments, causing huge loss of foreign exchange earning”, he said.
He said there was a dire need to establish a ‘national food safety, animal and plant health regulatory authority’ to provide cover to SPS management and controls in the country. The authority will act as apex body for policy making, monitoring and surveillance and use of pesticides in co-ordination with inspection agencies; provincial governments.
He said that according to various studies conducted in Pakistan excessive pesticides use not only aggravated pest problems, but had imposed substantial external cost on the stakeholders. Narc Principal Scientific Officer Karam Ahad said that pesticides were toxic and needed to be monitored from cradle to the grave, adding that a comprehensive pesticide residues monitoring system should be established to deal with different issues in a holistic manner. Dr Ashiq Mohammad and Dr Kevin Gallagher FAO Representative also spoke on the occasion.