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Tamil Nadu Farmers Concerned With the Availability of Highly Toxic Pesticides in the State

The availability of extremely toxic pesticides in Tamil Nadu has been a source of concern for organic farmers and other like-minded organisations.

Chintu Das
Pesticide Spraying
Pesticide Spraying

The availability of extremely toxic pesticides in Tamil Nadu has been a source of concern for organic farmers and other like-minded organisations. 

Organic farming, which was widespread in the State before the "green revolution," gained traction owing to the late Namalvar and "Nel" Jayaraman's efforts to popularise indigenous crop types.

Their persistence paid off, as a huge number of farmers across the state switched to organic farming practices and began planting traditional varieties like "Mappillai Samba" and "Karuppu Kouni," among others.

According to P. Duraisingam, Chairman, Consumer Research, Education, Action, Training and Empowerment (CREATE), the nutritional advantages of traditional varieties cultivated through organic farming did attract health aware customers, leading in an increasing market trend for these items.

During the last decade, the organisation began holding an annual 'Nel Thiruvizha' (paddy festival) in collaboration with farmers who have a passion for organic farming and the revival of historic paddy types. 

He regretted that the State did not have a clear organic farming policy or a roadmap to achieve the status of organic farming state like Kerala, Sikkim, and others, claiming that there was a growing awareness of ecological methods of agriculture and demand for safe and nutritious food among consumers.

In order to acquire the designation of Organic Tamil Nadu, the CREATE, which is also driving the "save our rice" campaign, recommended the following proposals, he added. 

The first and most important is to prohibit the use of very poisonous and high-level toxic pesticides in agricultural operations, since 27 highly toxic pesticides are easily accessible in the market through illicit means despite being outlawed by the Union Government.

To increase the availability of traditional paddy variety seeds, government seed farms that have previously specialised on hybrid variety seed production should be encouraged to expand into traditional paddy variety seed production.

Organic manures such as 'panchakavya,' 'amirtha karaisal,' 'jeevamirtha,' and others are more successful when indigenous cow breeds' urine and dung are utilised in the organic manure formulations, according to Dr. Duraisingam.

He emphasised the necessity for a State Policy for Organic Agriculture and a five-year roadmap to phase out the fatal chemical use in farming operations, saying that children were more exposed to pesticides' negative effects than adults.

He argued that youngsters in rural areas are more vulnerable since they live near agriculture zones and fields where chemical pesticides are commonly used.

As a result, he noted, declaring farm fields within a certain radius of living areas and schools in rural regions as "pesticide-free zones" would be appropriate. 

The organisation also proposed that traditional paddy types and millets be included in the healthy meal programme, in the diet supplied to in-patients at government hospitals, and in educational institution canteens. 

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