PMFAI opposes govt idea to ban 27 pesticides fearing biz loss of Rs 6K cr

The association said many out of these 27 pesticides have been recommended for controlling the locust attack. | Representative image
Pesticides industry body PMFAI on Tuesday opposed the government's proposal to ban 27 pesticides, saying it will result in business loss of worth Rs 6,000 crore and benefit China, besides affecting farmers' interest as substitutes are four-times costly.

The association blamed environmental NGOs for running propaganda against the pesticides industry.

The Union Agriculture Ministry recently issued a draft gazette notification, proposing to ban 27 pesticides to curb usage of chemicals.

The comments from stakeholders have been sought within the next 45 days.

"We want an investigation in this matter by a high powered scientific panel," Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) President Pradip Dave told reporters at a video press conference.

The proposed ban of these 27 pesticides is against the spirit of Make In India, Atmanirbhar Bharat and the mission of doubling farmers' income by 2022.

"These 27 generic pesticides have a total market of Rs 6,000 crore, of which Rs 4,000 crore are domestic sales and Rs 2,000 crore exports. We will lose this entire business," he said.

The total market size of Indian pesticides industry is around Rs 40,000 crore, of which around Rs 18,000 crore is domestic sales.

The world market of generic pesticides is worth Rs 30,000 crore and this will be totally captured by China, Dave said.

Raju Shroff, chairman of leading firm UPL Ltd, said the country is a major producer of agricultural crops despite lower consumption of pesticides compared with many big countries including the US.

He alleged that environmental NGOs were running propaganda against the pesticides industry, and misguiding people and other stakeholders.

Shroff made an allegation that these NGOs were getting fund from foreign agencies and working against the interest of Indian farmers and domestic industry.

He said that industry's concern should be examined by scientists of premium research organisation ICAR.

Shroff said all agricultural crops and the farmers' income would suffer if these 27 pesticides were to be banned.

The association said many out of these 27 pesticides have been recommended for controlling the locust attack.

"All the 27 molecules have been registered in India by regulatory authority, meeting all scientific evaluations for safety and efficacy, backed up by scientific data. These generic pesticides are used in India since 1970 without any risk or adverse impact to humans, animals and environment, and includes Malathion that was extensively used by the government during the recent locust attack," Dave said.

He said the review process of Dr Anupam Varma Committee was arbitrary.

The committee, formed in July 2013, was initially mandated to examine continued use of three neon icotinoids but within a month, the mandate was expanded to 66 generic insecticides that are banned, restricted or withdrawn in some other countries, but are used in India, Dave said.

This disregards FAO's advice that climate, crops grown, pests and diseases must guide the choice of pesticides for every country.

In its final report, submitted to the government in December 2015, the committee recommended a ban on 18 pesticides and suggested review of 27 generic insecticides after completion of studies.

"We conducted recommended studies suggested by the Registration Committee and submitted the report in 2019, explicitly stating that we are ready to conduct further studies, if directed. However, on 14th May 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare issued a draft ban on these 27 pesticides, Dave said.

The pesticides under the ambit of the proposed ban produce more than 130 formulations used by the farmers for crop protection. These pesticides account for 40 per cent of the domestic market.

The generic pesticide formulations, proposed to be banned, cost between Rs 350 to Re 450 per litre, which is economic and affordable to most of the farmers.

"If the ban is imposed, the alternatives imported will cost in the range of Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,000 per litre," it said.

The PMFAI said the ban will shrink India's export capability by more than 50 per cent and hand over a market worth Rs 12,000 crore to our Chinese competitors.

PMFAI is an industry body comprising Indian pesticide manufacturers, formulators and traders.

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