Pesticides: A Boon Or Bane

S. Tripathy, C. Kulkarni
S. Tripathy, C. Kulkarni
Use Pesticides
Farmer Spraying Pesticides

The global population currently stands at 7.9 billon and is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050. To meet the food and nutrition needs of the burgeoning human population we need to produce more food. This demand of increased food for feeding the future generation is a major concern. 

The amount of per capita arable land in India has consistently declined from about 0.34 ha in 1950s to 0.12 ha in 2018 and further expected to reduce to about 0.07 ha by 2030. The average size of operational holding in India has declined from 1.23 ha in 2005-06 to 1.08 ha in 2020-21. The food grain production in India at present has increased more than five times compared to that in 1950-51, ahead of the population growth which has increased more than 3.9 times compared to that of 1951. Implementation of the first Green Revolution in 1970s and the present Second Green Revolution in Eastern India has not been able to increase total food grain production of our country at present sustainability (FICCI, 2015). 

Sustainable measures should be taken in order to sustain the food and nutritional need of growing population of India. Although yield per hectare has doubled in the past years due to increased use of high yielding and hybrid varieties, fertilizers, crop protection chemicals, adoption of improved mechanization, land and water management practices etc., but  major challenges to increase our productivity still exists. Approximately 25% of the global crop output is lost due to attacks by pests, weeds and diseases and thus agrochemicals have an increasing role to play in enhancing crop productivity (FICCI, 2015). If loss due to pests can be minimised to some extent by use of pesticides, the yield will increase automatically. 

Pesticide exposure can cause serious neurological health problems such as memory loss, loss of coordination, reduced speed of response to stimuli, reduced visual ability etc. Children are at greater risk from some pesticides. At a developing stage exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual’s biological system operates. 

Pesticides may cause acute and delayed health effects in those who are exposed. Strong evidence also exists for other negative outcomes from pesticide exposure including neurological, birth defects, foetal death, and neurodevelopment disorder. 

India is the 2nd largest pesticide manufacturer in the world. However, India accounts only for 1% of the global pesticide consumption. Insecticides form the largest portion of pesticide consumption in India (at 75%) followed by fungicide at 12% and herbicides at 10%. Though the ‘per hectare usage’ is relatively low compared to the rest of the countries, indiscriminate use (in terms of quantity and timing) is still an issue. The rampant use of these chemicals, under the proverb, “if little is good, a lot more will be better” has resulted in many negative consequences to the non-target species and the environment. Besides, lack of awareness about the right chem for pest management often leads to use of wrong chemical which has been observed in some parts of Odisha, where farmers have been found to spray household phenyl for control of BPH in rice. 

Most of the time we used to blame the pesticides for the consequences we are facing. However, tremendous benefits we have received from the usage of pesticides in forestry, public health, domestic sphere and of course, in agriculture, a sector upon which the Indian economy is largely dependent. Therefore, it is required to weigh all the risks against the benefits arising out of pesticide use to ensure a maximum margin of safety to the environment, wild life and human being.  


Aktar Wasim Md, Sengupta D and Chowdhury A. 2009. Impact of pesticides use in agriculture, their benefits and hazards. Interdisciplinary toxicology, 2 (1):  1-12.

FICCI. Ushering the 2nd Green Revolution. Role of crop protection chemicals. A report on   Indian Agrochemical Industry, November 2015, New Delhi, pp 49.  

FICCI. Doubling Farmers' Income: Role of Crop Protection Chemicals & Solutions. A report on Indian Agrochemical Industry, July 2018, New Delhi, pp 13. 


S.Tripathy1and C. C. Kulkarni 

Department of Entomology, Faculty of Agriculture, Sri Sri University, Cuttack, 754006, Odisha1 

Department of Seed Science and Technology, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar, 751003, Odisha2 

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