Pesticide testing lab to be built at Kalimati marketA pesticide residue testing lab is planned to be built soon at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, the largest wholesale bazaar in the Kathmandu valley.
Prompted by public concern over the health hazards of pesticides as their use has multiplied at a rapid rate, the government moved to build a lab to test the level of chemical inputs in the vegetables sold here.
The Plant Protection Directorate of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) will set up the lab. Its very existence is also expected to spread awareness among farmers about the harmful effects of pesticides and make fruits and vegetables safe to consume.
Mohan Chapagain, chairperson of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board, said that the establishment of the lab would help minimize the supply of heavily contaminated vegetables and fruits in
“It will also help to take action against traders supplying vegetables and fruits containing high pesticide levels.”
He said that the residue level would be measured in samples of vegetables and fruits shipped to the Kalimati market, and a technical team would analyze them to determine whether they are consumable or not. It is estimated that 544 tonnes of vegetables and fruits worth Rs 20 million are sold daily at this wholesale market.
According to a research paper issued by the MoDA, the use of pesticides is not so high in Nepal compared to other Asian countries. The average pesticide use in Nepal is 142 g a.i. per hectare which is very low compared to other countries in Asia.
However, it showed that, citing various studies, more than 90 percent of the total pesticides are used in vegetable farming, raising the concern of vegetable consumers.
According to the board, the lab to be stationed in the Kalimati market will be equipped with Rapid Bioassay for Pesticide Residue (RBPR) which will measure the pesticide residue level in the vegetables and fruits sold there. The equipment was purchased with the financial assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The board said that the lab cost Rs 1.5 million. It added that they aimed to install the machine within a month.
“We have already brought the machine here, and we are searching for a proper place to set up the lab,” said Dilli Ram Sharma, programme director at the Plant Protection Directorate.
He added that four technicians had received training to operate the lab, and that further set-up process was underway. “We hope that the equipment will be operational by the third week of May.”
This lab is also expected to encourage farmers to go for organic farming. “We found out that farmers, in many parts of the country, are rapidly using pesticides in the name of increasing productivity; but it is very harmful for consumers,” said Sharma. “Many farmers are unaware about their effects on human health and the environment.”