Quarantine officials receive training on pesticide residue testsThe programme was organised amid widespread concern—and controversy—over pesticide residue tests on imported agriculture produce.
In a bid to carry out pesticide residues tests in fruits and vegetables, the government is training technical staffers serving at quarantine offices throughout the country.
The officials were invited for a training programme by the Central Agriculture Laboratory under the Department of Agriculture following directives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
“We have been imparting training to 17 quarantine officials serving throughout the country,” Jageshwor Sharma, a technician serving at rapid bioassay of pesticide residue (RBPP) lab in Kalimati, told the Post. “The officials will acquire practical knowledge and learn techniques to carry out the tests.”
The four-day training, which started on Tuesday, continued until Friday. According to Sharma, technicians from the Kalimati lab will also teach quarantine officials how to select samples and handle them.
Officials from quarantine offices in Birgunj, Kakarvitta, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Mahendranagar, Jhulaghat (of Doti), Tribhuvan International Airport and lab technicians from Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City participated in the training.
The programme comes amid widespread concern—and controversy—over pesticide residue tests on imported agriculture produce.
The government has been facing criticism for withdrawing its earlier decision to conduct pesticide residue tests on fruits and vegetables imported from India.
A Cabinet meeting on June 17 had decided not to allow the passage of fruits and vegetables from the borders without conducting laboratory tests for pesticide residues.
But two weeks later, the government revoked its decision to quarantine and conduct pesticide residue test for agriculture products from India after concerns from the Indian Embassy.
The government, however, has maintained that it decided not to conduct pesticide residue tests on imported farm produce for now because it lacked infrastructure and human resources.
Rajiv Das Rajbhandari, the spokesperson for the Central Agriculture Laboratory which operates RBPP labs across the country, said that quarantine officials were given the training to carry out tests of hazardous organophosphate and carbamate in vegetables and fruits.
“Several other types of pesticides are being imported and used by farmers in vegetables, but we are providing only the techniques to test carbamate,” said Rajbhandari. “We have allocated budget to impart training and carry out tests of other pesticides in the future.”
The laboratory has to send officials abroad for master training to carry out tests of other pesticides, as officials at the laboratory do not have proper knowledge about them, according to Rajbhandari.
Pesticides are commonly used to kill insects, fungi, weeds and other diseases, which damage plants and crops. Last year, over 632 metric tons of 169 types of pesticides including insecticide, pesticide, fungicide, herbicide and biopesticide of worth Rs 850 million was imported into Nepal, according to Rajbhandari.
Doctors say long-term consumption of vegetables and fruits with high levels of pesticides can lead to renal failure, heart and lung diseases, mental health problems and cancer. Consumption of such fruits and vegetables may also affect pregnant women and harm fetuses.