Agro-industry has seen a drastic change from the last few decades with the green revolution. While it has been a boon for economic independence and feeding the Nation’s population, the downsides of artificial seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides abuse continue with a growing concern for sustainability. Use of pesticides became rampant over last few decades. It is intoxicating food, impacting soil fertility and causing serious illnesses in farmers and consumers. Not only that, farmers also continue to feel burdened with their inability to pay back the loans they take for buying seeds, fertilizers etc.; as despite all these methods they incur losses.
Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides are used as protective measures to prevent any damage to the crops. These chemicals play a vital role in protecting yield from insects and producing food and supplies for the population. In India, they came in around 1950s. The demand for pesticides is high due to its cost effectiveness, low maintenance, and the food preserving qualities.
Pesticides are not healthy for humans; direct contact with these chemicals may cause various health problems. Foods which contain high quantity of pesticides are dangerous for human health. The high-risk zones are Punjab, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. In Punjab, farmers noted the decline in the population of peacocks and then there was rise in cancer in humans. The rate of cancer is so high in Punjab that they run a whole train called as “cancer train” from Punjab to Bikaner (in Rajasthan) for cancer patients treatment.
The abuse of pesticides can be due to several reasons. Growers are not informed properly about the right usage and the adverse impact on soil fertility, farm animals as well as human health. They may use cheaper solutions to save costs. Many of which can be counterfeits. They may leave it in the hands of uneducated workers without proper guidance. Uneducated farmers who use pesticides with bare hands are at a greater risk of getting infected from its side effects. All the products come with proper instruction and labels to inform the users about its safe usage and the risks. Not reading instructions properly, or using gears while spraying, exposing women to pesticides in childbearing years, spraying more than a set limit, reusing pesticides leads to various health problems.
‘Grow safe Food India campaign’ is an initiative by the Gov. of India, which aims to educate farmers about using pesticides responsibly and safely under experienced trainers of crop life India. They are planning to cover 6000 farm families over the next two years. The participants also learn to protect themselves from the chemicals and storing chemicals safely. These training include classroom teaching; practical field sessions and demonstrations enhance the understanding of the audience on these important issues. There are consortiums at National and International level working towards greener and safer chemistries.
Yet the need of the hour and the choice of the consumers are to go for pesticide-free cultivation.