The sale of illegal, sub-standard, spurious and also counterfeit pesticides is a major challenge being faced by the Indian agriculture, Indian society and economy at large with serious implications for the farmers. These illegal pesticides not only fail to deal with pests and insects but also inflict damages on crops and the environment, which causes multiple losses. It is not only the farmers who are deprived by lower yields, but consumers are also deprived of safe and quality food, export earnings are reduced, causing an adverse impact on the national economy.
Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy, as it employs nearly half of India’s workforce and contributes approx. 17 % of the nation’s GDP.
As per UN Forecast, India will have 1.5 billion people by 2030 and will be the most populated Country by 2030. There will be huge expectations from farmers to grow more food from fewer farm holdings. Crop Protection will play a big role in growing more and safe food for the country.
Agro-chemical industry is an important agricultural support industry which boosts agricultural yield by controlling the pests and diseases in the farmland.
In most of the crops, Indian farmers have lower productivity than the world average. One of the main reasons for this is they do not get genuine crop protection products.
However, Illegal, counterfeit, or spurious pesticides are a growing challenge for the Crop Protection Industry and Farmer, which bears a series of negative effects including economic losses for the farmers, potential harm to the environment, discouragement to honest local entrepreneurs from investing in legitimate product development, investments on technology development, loss of tax revenues and deleterious impact on potential crop exports.
According to a 2015 report by FICCI, “Study on Sub-standard, Spurious/Counterfeit Pesticides in India”, sales of illegal pesticides in India is estimated to be INR 3,200 crores per annum constituting 25% of the total pesticides available in the market. It is expected to reach 40% by 2019 if adequate effective efforts are not undertaken to stop the sale and use of illegal and counterfeit pesticides.
This also has a knocking effect on the economy. As per the estimate of Indian chamber of commerce, due to use these ineffective and illegal pesticides, there is an annual loss up to 11 Mio tons of food grains. In such a scenario, exports of agricultural commodities are under constant duress if traces of these illegal pesticides are found in the country of exports.
CropLife India has been continuously engaging with Regulators and Enforcement agencies in key States and the Central Government on addressing the issue. Crop protection products are strictly regulated by Government authorities to ensure safety, biosafety, toxicity, and environmental impacts. Care is taken by the Government and industry to protect public health, agriculture, food safety, economy, and the environment, in the use of Crop Protection products.
Government and industry, particularly CropLife India, have been fighting counterfeits, illegal and spurious pesticides including unregistered ‘bio products’ illegally laced with chemicals, counterfeits (look-a-likes) of illegal brands, and Illegal import of counterfeit pesticides which have not undergone rigorous scientific testing.
It is important for all stakeholders to like the Government, NGOs, industry, farmers, dealers and local police to partner and address this menace facing the farming community.
CropLife India Key Initiatives
- Advisory to Farmers and Dealer on Counterfeits/ Spurious products
In order to increase awareness on counterfeits / spurious products amongst pesticide dealers, the Department of Agriculture (DAC), issued advisories through letters to pesticide dealers on the consequences of sourcing and selling illegal crop protection products. The advisory has been issued in the years 2014, 2016 and 2018.
This Advisory is issued to all the Licensed Dealers / Retailers of Pesticides to caution them on the consequences of sourcing and selling illegal Crop Protection Products. Under the Grow Safe Food Campaign, the Advisory speaks in length about the various measures to be undertaken for Safe and Judicious Use of Pesticides and the role of Dealers / Retailers in the education of farmers.
As mandated by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India; the Advisory Letter, both in English and Hindi, was sent by CropLife India through its member companies, which helped reach out to around 500,000 dealers across India, over three years.
- CropLife India’s efforts being taken during COVID 19 pandemic for the farmers in the form of ‘poster on safety points during pandemic covering both Stewardship and Anti-counterfeit messages along with COVID 19 safety measures’. This poster is well received by various stakeholders and industries.
- Inclusion of an Anti-Counterfeit Module in the curriculum of Diploma in Agricultural Extension Services for Input Dealers Course managed by SAMETI, Government of West Bengal, India.
- MANAGE, Hyderabad has issued an advisory to all the State Government’s SAMETI’s and NTI’s across India – to partner with CropLife India for 1) inclusion of an Anti-Counterfeit module in the DAESI diploma course and 2) conduct training programs in line with the successful West Bengal, SAMETI model to incapacitating future Agri extension officials and Dealers.
- One-Day Awareness cum training Campaign on Anti-Counterfeit and Safe & Judicious Use of Crop Protection Products: In collaboration with Agriculture Dept., Govt of West Bengal and SAMETI- WB organized a ‘One-Day Awareness Campaign on Anti-Counterfeit and Safe & Judicious Use of Crop Protection Products on 12th September 2019 in 20 Centers of KVKs/ ATC/ NTIs across West Bengal. The workshop was well attended by key dignitaries such as Adviser to Hon’ble CM in Agriculture & Allied Sectors; Secretary, RamaKrishna Mission; Director, SAMETI, and JDAs, DDAs, ADAs, DAOs, etc of Districts respectively along with Agriculture Universities, Dealers/ Farmers/ Scientist, etc in the event. More than 1600 Dealers actively participated & were positively reinforced by each session of the event.
- Anti-counterfeit Mass Awareness Campaign in Gujarat: CropLife India with support of Govt. of Gujarat organized an Anti-counterfeit Mass Awareness Campaign in the villages of Amod, Bharuch, Karjan & Padara districts of Gujarat, covering more than 175 villages. Activities like Puppet Shows, Video shows, Farmers Training, messaging via loudspeakers, songs, Poster Pasting are conducted to educate farmers and create awareness against spurious/illegal products. Also, News Tickers were playing an important role in disseminating the ACF Messages by broadcasting in two local news channels ‘In Bharuch’ & ‘Narmada’ that have a network of more than 600 villages.
- Dealers’ Workshops – Dealer Workshops are organized across Gujarat, which are focused on the various ways of detecting Counterfeit, Spurious, Substandard and Unregistered/Unlicensed Pesticides. Farmer education by Dealers forms an important part of the entire discussion.
- Roundtable Meeting with FICCI to sensitize on the subject – In order to raise the awareness on the subject, FICCI with the help of the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals and Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, Government of India organized a Round Table Meeting on “Supporting Farmers with Quality Crop Protection Products: Challenges and Opportunities” on 15th February 2019 in New Delhi. The event was well attended by key Govt. officials along with more than 250 delegates. CropLife India was the Partner Association for this event.