By Shaukat Ali Bhambhro
In Pakistan the pesticide business has an annual turnover of around Rs 12 billions to Rs 14 billions and all the pesticides are being imported because the country has yet to progress in this vital field.
Out of the total import, about 80 per cent of pesticides are used on cotton which is Pakistan’s most valuable cash crop and also the leading foreign exchange earner for the country.
In 1971, an ordinance called Agricultural Pesticides Ordinance was promulgated by the government to regulate the import,
manufacture, formulation, sale, distribution and use of pesticides in agriculture. The Rules thereunder were framed and notified in 1973. The main objectives of the Ordinance and Rules are: – to regulate the import, manufacture, formulation, sale and distribution of pesticides.
– to ensure good packing and proper labelling of containers;
– to ensure safe handling and storage and
– to ensure quality control of pesticides.
Under the ordinance the federal government has constituted an Agricultural Pesticides Technical Advisory Committee (APTAC) composed of 18 members. The committee is responsible for advising the government on legal, administrative and technical implications of Agricultural Pesticides Ordinance / Rules, registration of pesticides and drawing up of specification of pesticides.
So far packing and lable requirements are concerned the lable indicates name of the product, active ingredient, name and address of registrant, net content, retail price, registration bumber, date of test, batch number, date of expiry anti dote, warning etc. So far as the enforcement of the said ordinance is concerned, at the federal level the department of plant protection, and at the provincial levels departments of agriculture extension in each provinces is responsible.
In the province of Sindh the enforcement of the said ordinance in the field is carried out solely by the inspectors designate who are district officers, agriculture, Deputy District deputy district officer agriculture and agriculture officers at Taluka level. No doubt, these district officers are under the executive district officers (EDO), agriculture but having no power of an inspector the EDO looks ineffective in respect of enforcement of the Pesticide Ordinance 1971.
In the upper Sindh region to keep checks on the sale of spurious or substandard pesticides samples of pesticides are collected by the pesticide inspector designate and sent to Sukkur where an authorised officer sent it onward to A pesticide laboratory at Rohri after necessary coding, which is supposed to be secret. Testing result of each pesticide is then sent to the chief chemist at Hyderabad where the result is compiled and sent either to The concerned DDO’s or the dealers directly (as told) from the DG office. Apparently the system look good and transparent but in real sense it is not so.
Allegations abound that pesticide samples taken for lab tests are replaced or desired results of tests are at various stages – all for consideration. During the current cotton season I had an opprotynity to visit cotton fields in Kingri taluka in Khairpur district where haris showed me empty bottles of pesticides they had used I was surprised to see that all the pesticides were fake.They were: Danital 10 EC, Permasact 25EC. Mecon Top 20 EC, and Pepto Kill 10 EC.
Here it would be proper to mention that Danital sold in the market under this brand name is “Danital 30 EC” of which importer is M/s Arrysta Agro Pakistan (Private) Ltd. Its litre pack MRP: Price is Rs 930.00 and per acre dose for spotted bollworm is 250 ml. On the contrary fake brand of Danital is of 10 EC and MRP Rs 1200.00 and recommended dose is only 300-350 ml per acre. Here it would be relevant to mention that with 10 EC active ingredient actual dose should have been 750 ml per acre and MRP Rs 400 per litre.
The irony is that because of corruption, which is rampant , in the enforcement of Agricultural Pesticides Ordinance not only the poor innocent growers is suffering but the very agriculture sector of Sindh province is the victim. So far other fake brand of pesticides viz: Permasact (which actual was Permasect of R B Awari Pesticide company), Mecontop and Hepto Kill are concerned its laboratory, as printed on the lable, are M/s Pak China Chemicals Lahore and Distributor M/s Rehbar Agro Chemicals (No address) as could be seen in the photograph. Besides labels on these products shows many errors, such as no registration number, wrong active ingredient, mistakes of spelling of many words, etc.
However, when the very landlord of Pirjogoth was apprised of the entire fake pesticides supplied by his trusted local pesticide dealer it was found difficult to accept by him. However, when I requested him in national interest to help me in apprehending the very unscrupulous pesticide dealer he declined saying that the very pesticide dealer use to supply him entire inputs for his land. What a pityAction against the dealer means discontinuation of future aid (credit on high interest) which is vital for the survival for majority of the growers of Sindh irrespective of small or big.
Out of curiosity to know whether samples of these fake brands of pesticides have been drawn by the pesticides inspector of the agriculture extension when I visited the office of the agriculture, Khairpur, it was observed that majority of the samples drawn during the month of July, August and September 2004 cotton season were of multinational or reputed companies or distributors which was reflective of the facts obtained from the pesticide dealers and my own observations.
I. Since the existing system of enforcement of the pesticide ordinance is corruption ridden a revolutionary change through local bodies system is unavoidable.
II. Powers of Executive District Officer Agriculture should be enhanced so that unbridal pesticide inspectors could be brought under the control of the district administration (District Nazim).
III. Among the regulatory duties since enforcement of Agricultural Pesticide Ordinance 1971 is also the duty of Federal Plant Protection Department, in stead of acting as a silent spectator, the DPP also should come forward in the field using services of its Regional Entomologists based at Khairpur in Sindh, Multan and Lahore in Punjab, Quetta in Balochistan and Peshawar in NWFP, exclusively for strict watch on labels requirements.
IV. Pesticide containers must contain importers guarantee against the pesticides sold in the market through dealers.