CCFI demands clear National Policy on Plant Protection

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New Delhi, Sep 26 (UNI) Pesticide producers of the country today urged the Government to expedite a clear National Policy on Plant Protection as the absence of a 'protective cover' to crops against pests and insects was causing a loss of Rs 1.40 lakh crore a year.

Talking to reporters, Mr R G Agarwal, Chairman, Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), said at present there was no authenticated information on input usage, pests and disease control.

However, Pests, pathogens and weeds accounted for crop losses of more than 1.40 lakh crore last year as per an estimate released by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Mr Agarwal demanded that the Government should encourage use of pesticides from Rs 4000 crore at present to Rs 10,000 during the XIth five year plan to have a better yield for the farmers.

CCFI Chairman said India's pesticide consmption was merely two per cent of the world usage and 1.6 per cent of world agricultural exports.

In the absence of clarity from the government, the farmers were confused a lot on the usage of pesticides, he added.

''Academicians and agricultural scientists have unanimously concluded that putting an end to the sale of spurious and sub-standard crop protection chemicals and educating and training the farmers in safe and judicious usage was an immediate need, '' Mr Agarwal said.

CCFI Chairman claimed that Indian farm output lagged far behind from even a country like China, where the average farm size was much smaller, only 0.4 hectares as compared to 1.4 hectares in India.

Chinese usage of mechanisation, represented by intensity of tractor usage, was also far lower than that of India.

However, the Chinese consumption of fertilizers at 39.6 million metric tonnes (MMT), is more than double that of India at just 16.1 MMT. China and India both have nearly the same irrigated land-- nearly 55 million hectares. However, China is much far ahead in terms of yield per acre. The average yield per acre in of rice is 3,034 kg, wheat 2,688 kg, groundnut 1,109 kg and mustard 909 kg as compared to the healthy yield of China which is 6,220 kg for rice, 4,155 kg of wheat, 2,888 kg for groundnut and 1,778 kg for mustard.

The Indian Agriculture Extension network comprising of a few lakh Krishi Sevaks on whom rests the responsibility of transmitting new technology and knowledge to farmers, has collapsed and is in shambles.

''The central agriculture ministry and various state governments must awaken to this urgent need to rengerate and revitalise agriculture extention,'' Mr Agarwal suggested.

UNI

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