It has been over three decades since India Today, one of India’s leading publications covered a story on the problem of fake pesticides in Punjab and Haryana. In these last 35 years, the predicament of farmers in India has worsened year by year, as they continue to fight a grim battle against fake pesticides. On the other hand, the fake pesticides industry in India has been growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent and now constitutes approximately 30 per cent of the total crop protection market. While fighting fake pesticides is a complex problem, the adoption of new generation authentication solutions can greatly help various stakeholders in tackling this growing menace. The article highlights this core issue and details on its various types along with the reasons for the increase in counterfeit pesticides. The story also brings to light the authentication solutions that can be implemented in India to curb this menace in the interest of farmers, industry and country.
In India, farmers do not have any tool/medium to differentiate genuine pesticides from fake ones at the time of purchase. Due to lack of awareness and illiteracy, they rely on the visual appeal and can only check the quality of products with the marking of ISI/AGMARK. However, with the advancement in digital technology, it has become easy for unethical manufacturers to produce fake ISI/AGMARK product as well. Farmers only come to know about counterfeit pesticides after there has been a loss of crop or field. However, until that happens, there is no way to analyse the contaminants in the fake products as the farmers apply them in all their crops, or use up the packing materials. Therefore, there remains a constant need to spread awareness on ‘How to identify genuine pesticides from the fake ones?’
The usage of authentication technologies on pesticides products can be great help to the farmers and authorities, not only in identifying the fake products but in identifying the counterfeiters involved in the fake pesticides’ business as well. Further, the government authorities can use anti-counterfeiting devices comprising of overt, covert and forensic security features.
Example of such tools are security hologram seal and labels, tamper evident security film, low cost transponder tags, and light sensitive ink designs. Integrated with track and trace technologies, these solutions can help farmers and enforcement authorities in identification of genuine and fake pesticides.
All these anti-counterfeiting solutions (label) can be linked with the database of our Indian Government Kisan Call Centre. According to the Indian Government, nearly 70 lakh farmers across the country are registered with the KISAN SMS Portal. The farmers can easily check the originality of pesticides by giving a missed call or SMS at the toll-free number 1800-180-1551 by confirming the unique number printed at label. A message is then sent to each farmer in his preferred language and contains information about the pesticide’s batch number, expiry date and originality.
Adopting authentication solutions is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders; as the brand owner and the authorities enjoy the revenues and tax/duties respectively and the consumer has access to the original product. These authentication solutions also help the end consumer to identify a genuine product in turn winning his loyalty and boosting the brand value.
Inputs by :
C. S. Jeena