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Plantation Sector to Request Exemption from New Glyphosate Use Regulations

Planters assert that it would be prohibitively expensive to hire a professional to spray the herbicide in the vast and isolated plantation areas.

Shivam Dwivedi
Glyphosate is used to control weeds in tea plantations, coffee estates, and rubber plantations through ground application.
Glyphosate is used to control weeds in tea plantations, coffee estates, and rubber plantations through ground application.

The plantation industry believes it should be exempt from the new glyhposate regulations. According to a notification issued by the Agriculture Ministry earlier this week, the use of glyphosate is hereby restricted, and no one shall use glyphosate except pest control operators (PCOs).

Planters claim that hiring a professional to spray the herbicide would be prohibitively expensive in the vast and remote plantation areas.

According to Jeffry Rebello, President of the United Planters' Association of South India (UPASI), the planters' body will approach the Commerce Ministry to request an exemption for the plantation sector to apply glyphosate through PCOs. Glyphosate is used to control weeds in tea plantations, coffee estates, and rubber plantations through ground application.

"Because of the plantations' rural location and sheer size, we had written to the Ministry that it is impractical and very expensive if only PCOs come and spray the herbicide." Furthermore, there are no alternatives to glyphosate for weed control in plantations. If weeds are not controlled, the efficiency of fertiliser use decreases. "The country is already suffering from a severe scarcity of fertilisers," said Shreedharan Chandran, Vice-President of UPASI and a tea planter.

UPASI had earlier highlighted to the Agriculture Ministry that the PCOs are available mostly in the cities requiring private pest control activities for household purposes or fumigation of exported commodities.

It had also highlighted that the existing total number of licensed PCOs in India are in far less in numbers than the actual requirement to serve the tea plantations spread over 5.66 lakh hectares.

N Lakshmanan, a tea planter, said to employ a PCO at a mid-size plantation will be expensive and add up to the costs. Besides, it may lead to unnecessary harassment.

Glyphosate has been approved for use in tea estates in India for nearly four decades. According to UPASI, the tea gardens are mostly monitored by Organised Institutions. They have their own group of well-trained spraying squads with decades of experience in herbicide application on weeds/ground in typical tea eco systems or insecticides-acaricides-fungicides application onto tea plants under direct supervision of responsible qualified assistant gardens managers.

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