Pesticide testing lab resumes operations at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable MarketThe lab conducts tests for two types of pesticides in vegetables and fruits — organophosphate and carbamate.
The lab at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market has restarted rapid bioassay testing of pesticide residue on vegetables and fruits.
With the government changing the modality of lockdown and easing the lockdown last week, the decision to reopen the lab was made on Sunday.
Prakash Ghimire, plant protection officer at the lab, said that the lab was reopened on Monday after being closed for more than two months. He added that they were not operating at full capacity due to a lack of manpower. To perform a test, the lab has to collect samples, conduct tests, analyse the results and record the data, tasks which are not possible to perform alone.
Before the lockdown, the lab had three technicians. Now it has one. The other two technicians are not able to commute to work as the government has still not allowed public transportation to resume and their office does not provide transportation facilities.
This means that while the lab has been reopened, testing is limited due to a lack of manpower.
Currently, Ghimire can test only two types of vegetables. Normally, with a full team of three technicians, the lab can conduct tests on eight to ten fruits and vegetables daily.
He said that tests on tomatoes, cauliflowers, eggplants and green beans arriving from domestic farms showed no residue of pesticides.
Farmers typically spray pesticides on fruits like litchi and mango to make them look more attractive and ripen them in a short time, said consumer rights activists.
The lab at the Kalimati market conducts rapid bioassay of pesticide residues on vegetables and fruits arriving from Kavre, Dhading, Makawanpur and Chitwan, the largest suppliers of fresh produce in Kathmandu valley. The lab has been using the rapid bioassay technique to detect pesticide residues in farms products.
The lab conducts tests for two types of pesticides in vegetables and fruits — organophosphate and carbamate. “Vegetables imported from India are tested for pesticide residue at labs in the provinces before arriving in Kathmandu,” said Ghimire.
According to the Plant Protection Directorate, more than 635 tonnes of 170 types of pesticides including insecticide, fungicide, herbicide and biopesticide enter the country annually.
Doctors say that long-term consumption of vegetables and fruits containing high levels of pesticide could cause health problems.