New Delhi, September 28 (Agencies): About 10.6 million tonne of food production will be lost this year due to illegal or counterfeit pesticides, as per a recent study by industry body Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). This is almost 4% of the entire production.
The study points out that counterfeit pesticides are growing and were 30% of the total market in volume terms and 25% in value terms in 2013. It further warns that the problem is growing at 20% annually and if not challenged, almost 40% of all pesticides sold in 2019 will be spurious. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal are the worst effected states, as per the study. The study puts the market valuation of the agro-chemical industry at about Rs 25,000 crore. Of this, illegal pesticides accounted for Rs 3,200 crore in 2013.
Among primary reasons cited for the proliferation of illegal pesticides is price, which can be almost 30-40% lower than the average market price of an authentic product. Also, for manufacturers and sellers, profit margins on illegal products is around 25-30% as compared to 3-5% for branded products. The study also blames the long product registration process. It says the 1-3 duration acts as an entry barrier for new businesses and incentivises illegal routes into the market.
While irreversible damage to environment by use of unmonitored toxic elements can render large patches of land useless for cultivation, it said chances of ground and surface water contamination impacting millions of people is also high. It further says that exports could be affected as there were chances of Indian food products being rejected by developed countries.
The study also paints a dark future for the agricultural sector in India, which contributed 15.79% to gross domestic product in 2013-14. The study said, according to the 2011 census, India’s 119 million cultivators were decreasing in number by approximately 2,000 every day. Other than recommending increased vigilance and ground level awareness, the study also asks the government to step in. It proposes anti-counterfeiting committees to coordinate between stakeholders and mandating minimum educational requirements to qualify as a pesticide retailer.
Acknowledged by the government body – Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the study is supported by a number of farmers organisations, including the Bharatiya Krishak Samaj. It is based on interviews with key agrochemical companies, regulatory bodies, farmers, distributors and sales, procurement departments in companies.