The Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) has expressed serious concern over the draft Government order called “Banning of Insecticides Order 2020” which prohibits the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of 27 agro-chemicals, including the commonly used key pesticides like mancozeb, 2,4-D, and chlorpyrifos. The proposed ban, if implemented, would have a deleterious impact on industry and would also adversely affect farmers operating in the agro-chemicals ecosystem while going against the precepts of the ‘Make in India’ initiative avidly championed by the Government.
According to Mr. M.J Khan, Chairman, ICFA, the pesticide industry would suffer a big loss in terms of domestic production, consumption and exports, in case the ban becomes a reality. He further said that the proposed ban has come at a time when India has acquired a pivotal position as a major producer and exporter of some of these molecules. And this could be a major asset when the world is looking to diversify the supply chain away from China. The restrictions on production and export of these 27 molecules, which account for 70 per cent of the agro-chemicals produced in the country, at this juncture, would diminish the prospects of expanding our market worldwide and move towards an atmanirbhar Bharat.
Mr Khan maintained that the ban would result in the industry incurring an estimated loss of at least Rs 8000- 9000 crore as it would lead to the closure of many companies producing the banned product. This in turn would result in the slowing down of investment and jobs. Further, the industry would lose the opportunity of venturing into the making of new products especially when many of the items are coming off patent. This would also be a double whammy for companies which are already reeling under the impact of disruptions in supply chain due to covid-19 induced lockdown.
The specified agro-chemicals are also considered to be indispensable for the farmer. Being much cheaper than their patented substitutes and known for their efficacy while fighting the battle against pests, diseases and weeds on the farm, their unavailability in the market would raise the cost of farming and hit the farmer hard. In fact, it is estimated that the average cost of operations related to plant protection could escalate by two-three times- from an estimated Rs. 260-300 per acre at present to at least Rs. 500-600 per acre -owing to the use of expensive substitutes and thereby adversely impacting the competitiveness of agriculture and jeopardizing food security, maintained Mr Khan.
Allaying concerns about the impact of the industry on the environment, which is the ostentatious reason for proposing the ban, ICFA reasoned that it is only 3 out of the 27 items belong to the category of red or bio-hazardous chemicals.
In view of the above, ICFA strongly recommends that, except for the 3 items which fall under the ‘red category’, the government should revisit the proposed ban on 27 agro-chemical products and allow companies to continue with the production and export of the insecticides in the larger interest of promoting inclusive growth in the country.