Agri Business

‘New Pesticide Bill will deter serious investors’

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on October 30, 2020 Published on October 30, 2020

The Pesticide Bill is silent on intellectual property cover which will make it easier for data to be freely available for copycats   -  K_V_S_GIRI

Provisions do not encourage investment in new tech, says Dhanuka chief Agarwal

The Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 tabled in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament suffers from many shortcomings and are detrimental to the interests of any stakeholder - be it farmers or industry, said RG Agarwal, Chairman of Dhanuka Agritech Ltd.

“While drafting the Bill, the government has refused to listen to scientists or farmers, let alone the industry. It is rather a mystery what their compulsions were, to come out with such a Bill,” Agarwal said in an interview with BusinessLine.

He said, “As per the existing Insecticide Act, the time limit given to register a molecule was one year with a maximum extension of another six months. Even then, the Registration Committee takes 5- 7 years to register a molecule ostensibly because of shortage of manpower. But the new Bill does away with even this time stipulation, leaving it totally ambiguous.”

Agarwal has been credited with introducing as many as 40 molecules in the Indian market.

Data protection

He added that despite a number of committees, including a Parliamentary Standing Committee, recommending the need for giving data protection for a period of time when a new molecule is introduced, the Bill has remained silent on it.

While the Parliamentary Committee called for five years of protection, committees as Ashok Dalwai-led committee suggested data protection for about 2-3 years. “In other countries, data protection is available for a period ranging from 5 to 15 years,” Agarwal said, adding that without such stringent intellectual property protection no industry would come forward to invest in technologies that are beneficial for farmers.

Registration of a molecule

There are 1,175 molecules are used in the farming world over whereas the number of molecules available to Indian farmers is just 292. Apart from the time required, registering a molecule in India requires an investment of ₹40-50 crore as they need to tested in different parts of the country before a registration is granted.

But data collected through trials carried out over a period time by a genuine company and submitted for seeking registration gets leaked in no time, making it easy for copycats to come out with similar products, he said. “Do you think any firm worth its name will invest in new technology in such a climate,” asked Agarwal.

Dhanuka’s chief also said that there are problems with the way a pesticide is defined in the new Bill as well. The existing Act defines a pesticide as one that has been included in the schedule of the Act, however, the new definition is rather bizarre, he said. “It says a molecule or a compound that kills a pest is a pesticide. If you apply turmeric on a pest, it will die. But can you call turmeric a pesticide,” he asked.

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Published on October 30, 2020
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