Agri Business

Govt wants commission agents to be farm-tech savvy

TV Jayan | | Updated on: May 11, 2018
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Mandis can facilitate sale of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides to regulate input quality

The Union government is toying with the idea of insisting commission agents in mandis have sound knowledge of agricultural inputs as it grapples with the problem of spurious products and high pesticide residues in foodgrains.

Last month, a meeting of agricultural officials from the Centre and Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh explored the possibility of making agricultural mandis single window facilities for the sale of inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and pesticides for better regulation of input quality.

The meeting chaired by Ashok Dalwai, CEO of National Rainfed Area Authority, also suggested the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee may explore the possibility of considering changes to ensure that “packages of various pesticide formulations are appropriate for use by farmers having small holdings.”

Basmati crop

“Having smaller packages may help curb the tendency to apply pesticides in higher-than-recommended dosages,” said a source who was present at the meeting.

The meeting decided to take basmati as representative crop to begin with and based on its performance to extend it to other crops.

It asked the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) to identify 25 to 30 blocks, maybe one block per district, where basmati is grown in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and other States where the aromatic rice has a GI tag.

Pesticide levels and exports

Indian basmati exports to Europe have been hampered by higher-than-permitted residue levels of pesticide tricyclazole.

“It is not just European Union. It is now becoming a multi-market problem as many countries have slowly started talking about pesticide residue. Soon it is going to be a widespread issue,” said Rajen Sundaresan, AIREA’s Executive Director.

“We would like to have all inputs required by farmers sold from areas in and around mandis so that it makes it possible to have a proper monitoring of inputs,” said Sundaresan. Vijay Setia, President, AIREA, said it is important that arthiyas and commission agents have adequate understanding about the quality of different agricultural inputs as farmers normally seek them out for advice.

Basic knowledge

“Their knowledge about seed quality, different seed treatments and different types of pesticides could be improved through short-term courses,” Setia said.

“This is not just about exports. It is important to make sure that food eaten by our people is safe,” he said.

Agriculture Ministry officials participated in the meeting said they would take up this initiative with State agencies.

Published on May 11, 2018

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