Getting rid of harmful chemical pesticidesThe Nepal government has been reducing the use of chemical pesticides with various programmes.
In 1962, biologist and writer on nature and science, Rachel Louise Carson, published a book entitled 'Silent Spring' which exposed the harmful effects of chemical pesticides on the environment. ‘We stand now where two roads diverge,’ she wrote, and stressed that man should choose either chemicals or alternative measures to control insect pests. This probably led to the birth of biological control. In the context of agricultural commercialisation, man is standing where two roads converge, not diverge, meaning we have to choose safer chemical compounds as well as alternative measures in our effort to control pests. With this, the industrial nations invented the middle road approach to pest control—integrated pest management—especially after the 1960s after phasing out most poisonous compounds.
The Nepal government has been reducing the use of chemical pesticides with various programmes. In this regard, it has brought into full implementation the Pesticide Act 1991 and Pesticide Regulation 1993. Pesticide registration in Nepal is done by the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Centre under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development of the government of Nepal. Before 1990, pesticide imports in Nepal were carried out by Agriculture Inputs Company, and the legislative framework of registration, import, sale and use were related to this section. The Pesticide Act 1991 and Pesticide Regulation 1993 (first amendment in 2006) came into force countrywide on July 16, 1994. The act regulates import, production, sale, distribution, marketing and use of pesticides with the objective of achieving a rational and appropriate management of pesticides and preventing pesticide risks to human beings, animals, birds and the environment.
A large number of persistent and hazardous pesticides have been banned from agriculture for public health reasons. The use of the highly toxic Quinalphos, Ethion and Phorate in tea fields has been prohibited since May 2005. Fifteen pesticides have been banned and deregistered in Nepal, and six others are in the process of being published in the Nepal Gazette. They include Chlordane, DDT, Dieldrin, Endrin, Aldrin, Heptachlor, Mirex, Toxaphene, Lindane, BHC, Phosphamidon, Organo Mercuric Fungicide (EMC, MEMC, PMA,PMC), Methyl Parathion, Monocrotophos, and Endosulfan.
The Pesticide Committee has decided to ban six pesticides, namely Phorate, Carbofuran, Carbaryl, Dichlorvos Triazophos and Benomyl. The pesticides that are imported, distributed, traded and used should be minimally hazardous to health and the environment. In this regard, more emphasis has been given to the use of safer chemicals and organic pesticides as an alternative to chemical pesticides to control crop pests.
Some microbial pesticides such as Metarhizium anisopliae, Beauveria bassiana, Bacillus thuringiensis and nuclear polyhederosis virus and Trichoderma viride are registered and in use in some crops and areas. Several kinds of lures and biological agents are also being used in Nepal. Their commercial production with indigenous agents is a priority of the government. At the same time, being a signatory country to various international conventions and treaties like the Basel convention, Rotterdam convention and World Trade Organisation, Nepal has deregistered and also imposed a ban on a number of chemical compounds. Persons without an authorised licence cannot import, sell or use chemical compounds.
Aside from the regulation, Nepal has been implementing promotional and awareness programmes at various levels—among growers, traders (especially agro-vets and pesticides retailers and wholesalers), technicians and consumers. Initiatives like integrated pest management, farmers field school, plant clinic, workshops, seminars, exchange visits and programmes are in place. They are taught various safety measures from import to sale. Similarly, the government has been implementing Rapid Bioassay of Pesticide Residue analysis at some places—Birtamod (Jhapa), Biratnagar (Province 1), Nawalpur (Sarlahi, Province 2), Kalimati (Kathmandu, Province 3), Pokhara (Gandaki Province), Butwal, Nepalgunj (Province 5) and Attaria (Sudurpaschim Province). They analyse organophosphates and carbamate groups of chemical pesticides.
In addition, the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control maintains Rapid Bioassay of Pesticide Residue laboratories in various places along with one accredited central laboratory at Babar Mahal, Kathmandu. It is imperative to enhance and upgrade the capabilities and facilities of the laboratories without delay. Expressions of concern from various sides about pesticide analysis are welcome, and the ministry has been working on them.
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