Friday, October 24, 2008

Biologicals Should Replace Chemical Pesticides at Harvest for Safety

The familiar smell of hydrocarbons awoke me from slumber. I am glad that happened because dozing in the front seat is always unsafe. It had been a long day, and my friendly host Shri Hublikar had given me a delicious lunch. The back seat was full of safety gear so there was no choice but to sit next to Shri Vikas the driver.

It was nearly dusk on October 23rd 2008. We were near Kalaiwat on the road from Sirsa to Narwana in Haryana. The Chawda Farm House is managed by immigrant labor from Panipat. Sitaram, son of Rajendra Singh was spraying an irrational tank mix of pesticides. He had chosen Nurelle of Dow Agro, which contains the deadly combination of Chloropyriphos and Cypermethrin. He then added Novaluron of Indofil, unaware that he was simply wasting money in the bargain.

There was worse to follow. Sitaram's brother was spraying without protective gear. His calves were drenched in the toxic brew. He was unaware of safe pesticide application principles, but gratefully accepted my offer of plastic clothing on subsidy. I will arrange for this in due course, as all the kits I had were used at Ambala just a few days earlier.

Sitaram's wife and father were harvesting even as the spray was in progress. His children were playing in the field as well. I asked them to leave, though this did not please the family too much. Here is one photographic record of the shocking scene: 

I have more pictures and a video as well. I deeply regret the lack of professional commitment of all pesticide professionals, including myself, who allow such threats to our communities.

I will write a series of posts on this matter. Please help me ameliorate this enormous risk to our collective national wellness. I ask for a first step today. Please let us keep biologicals in our product ranges, and do all we can to respect pre-harvest intervals. I have to say that the field in the picture above was heavily damaged by leaf-eating and sucking pests. It was ideal for Endogram and Endosulfan-tolerant Chrysoperla. We all lose if organophosphates and pyrethroids are used within just minutes of harvest. 

Who is responsible for the children who eat the cauliflowers from the field photographed above?

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