1. News

Syngenta India Launches Initiative to Train Farmers for Safe Pesticide Spraying

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
Safe Spraying

A Few years back, some farmers died because of accidental inhalation of pesticides while spraying on their fields in Maharashtra and most of them were from the Yavatmal district. As per police records received under the RTI Act highlighted that 22 farmers lost their lives that year and over 300 were affected by pesticide poisoning.

“One of the key issues that led to the unfortunate pesticide exposure incident in 2017 in Yavatmal was the indiscriminate mixing of chemicals and lack of adequate precautions while spraying pesticide on the crops,” says KC Ravi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Syngenta India, an arm of Switzerland-based agricultural science and technology major Syngenta.

The problem of Lack of Precaution:

This problem arose because growers cultivated illegal genetically modified (GM) cotton, and workers spraying pesticides on the farms did not take adequate precautions. The issue was aggravated by an erratic monsoon that was followed by pest attacks.

As per Ravi, the cotton plants grew to unusual heights, and the farmworkers didn't use PPE kits, including gloves and masks, to spray the pesticides. “Also, doctors were not able to diagnose and treat the affected,” he says.

Making Doctors Aware:

Syngenta India started an awareness program for doctors by bringing in a toxicologist. The firm also began making available PPE kits for those spraying pesticides. Then they went about plugging the loopholes in pesticide spraying by first training farmers. “It is an important strategy to train and counsel the farmers. The Syngenta team spends 15 minutes at the beginning of every farmer meeting to train the growers on safe use practice,” Ravi says.

Syngenta has come up with five golden rules, including understanding the product, exercising caution, and using appropriate PPE kits, for safe use of crop protection methods, besides a safe spraying initiative. Now, it has launched an initiative to train 10,000 farmers under its Inculcating Safety Awareness for Farmer Empowerment (I-SAFE) program.

Empowering through Equipping Growers

“I-SAFE is a first-of-its-kind initiative to instill among Yavatmal farmer’s awareness on health and safety and equipping them with tools and techniques,” he says.

A part of the I-SAFE program is a Spraymen Entrepreneur program. “We began a professional agri entrepreneurship program to prepare professional spraymen, who offer their services to farmers for spraying,” the Syngenta official said.

The firm’s dedicated application technology training programs for farmers provide technical know-how on increasing spray efficiency while reducing chemical losses. It also trains users to repair and maintain the spray equipment.

 ‘Gulabi’ Campaign:

Syngenta, which has covered 7.48 million growers, including 2.5 small farm holders (between 2014 -19), has facilitated intensive training to a few farmers and spray-men, who in turn are training others. On the basis of the success of the project, the Maharashtra government has asked the firm to share its experience with administrative officials of other districts.

That's why Syngenta India has set up a model cotton farm and launched a 'Gulabi Campaign' to halt the pink bollworm pest in the crop. “We have trained farmers in proper farming methods, including setting up pheromone traps to weed out the pests. We are sharing our best experiences with them,” says Ravi.

Ramesh Seshrav Gujjalwar, who has benefitted from the PPE kits and training, said some growers like him used to chew tobacco or be intoxicated during spraying pesticide unprotected. “We now have understood the importance of protection while spraying and the kits protect us from all such harms,” he says.

Syngenta’s I-SAFE Programme has become a safe spraying initiative in rural areas. It is assisting farmers to lessen the danger of exposure through awareness training & distribution of PPE kits in collaboration with Gramin Samasya Mukti Trust.

(Source: Business Line)

Like this article?

Hey! I am Shivam Dwivedi. Did you liked this article and have suggestions to improve this article? Mail me your suggestions and feedback.

Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters