The Union Agriculture Ministry is likely to consider this week the expert panel’s recommendations on the proposed ban on 27 pesticides. However, industry experts doubt if there will be any immediate decision, following change of officials in the ministry.

Sources said that the Agriculture Ministry may hold an inter-ministerial discussion on the proposed ban with regard to the Rajendran committee report.

The government had published a draft notification in May 2020 inviting objections and suggestions from stakeholders with regard to prohibition of 27 pesticides-- acephate, atrazine, benfuracarb, butachlor, captan, carbendazin, carbofuran, chlorpyriphos, deltamethrin, dicofol, dimethoate, dinocap, diuron, malathion, mancozeb, methimyl, monocrotophos, oxyfluorfen, pendimethalin, quninalphos, sulfosulfuron, thiodicarb, thiophante methyl, thiram, zineb and ziram.

Expert committee

However, on the request of stakeholders and intervention by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the timeline of receiving objections and suggestions was increased to 90 days from 45 days. Later in January 2021, the ministry set up an expert committee under T P Rajendran, a former assistant director general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), to consider the objections and suggestions taking into consideration all aspects related to safety, toxicity, efficacy, updated status of submission of required study and data, technical and scientific requirements, availability of safer substitutes, farmers interests and ban status in other countries.

Though the committee was asked to submit its report in three months, it is learnt that the ministry received the report in November 2021. The proposed ban on 27 pesticides is part of a move to phase out 66 contentious pesticides for their toxicity. The government had refused registration for 18 of them.

Farmers may have to shell out more

Industry sources said that the current production value of these 27 pesticides is about ₹10,300 crore, out of which ₹6,000 crore (or 58 per cent) worth items get exported. “If domestic sales (export may be exempted) of these pesticides are banned, the farmers may have to pay additional ₹2,000 crore to get imported alternatives,” an industry official said As the new agriculture secretary has assumed charge last week, he may take time to study the issue, an industry source said.

The Ministry of Agriculture has so far banned or phased out 46 pesticides and four pesticide formulations for import, manufacture or sale in the country. In addition, eight pesticides registrations have been withdrawn, five pesticides banned for domestic use but export their allowed and nine pesticides have been placed under restricted use.

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