Pesticides Management Bill-2020
- According to the experts, the Pesticides Management Bill (PMB), 2020 will have a far-reaching impact on Indian agriculture and farmer’s livelihood if it is passed in the current form.
- Therefore, they have called for wider consultations on the Bill and asked to place it before a select committee.
- The Insecticides Act, 1968 currently governs the registration, manufacturing, export, sale and use of pesticides in India.
About the Pesticides Management Bill-2020
- It was introduced in Rajya Sabha in March, 2020. It seeks to regulate the manufacture, import, sale, storage, distribution, use, and disposal of pesticides, in order to ensure the availability of safe pesticides and minimise the risk to humans, animals, and environment.
- The Bill seeks to replace the Insecticides Act, 1968.
- It will empower farmers by providing them with all the information about the strength and weakness of pesticides, the risk and alternatives. All information will be available openly as data in digital format and in all languages.
- Any person who wants to import, manufacture, or export pesticides would have to register under the new Bill and provide all details regarding any claims, expected performance, efficacy, safety, usage instructions, and infrastructure available to stock that pesticide.
- The information will also include details on the pesticide’s potential effects on the environment.
- It also includes the provision of compensating the farmers in case of losses due to the use of spurious or low quality of pesticides.
- It mandates the Union Government to form a central fund to take care of the compensation.
- The Billplans to regulate pesticides-related advertisements to check misleading claims by industries and manufacturers.
- It also intends to promote organic pesticides.
- The enforcement of the Pesticides Management Bill will strengthen the efforts of the program in reducing the use of pesticides and increase the use of safer registered pesticide and organic pesticides.
- Further, it has the opportunity to clean up the food and farming system of our country, but needs to make the registration process more stringent for manufacturers.
Key Issues with PMB-2020
- It would not allow the manufacture and export of pesticides not registered for use in India even if these are approved in other countries.
- The present PMB will increase the import of formulations and will damage the export of agro-chemicals. This is directly against the demands presented by the Ashok Dalwai Committee, constituted in 2018 to promote domestic and indigenous industries and agricultural exports from India, which are missing from PMB, 2020.The committee had recommended reduction in import and dependence on imported formulations.
- It gives powers to Registration Committee (RC) to subjectively review registration of a pesticide and then suspend, cancel or even ban its usage. This would be done without any scientific evaluation.Such scenarios can disrupt Indian farmers’ functioning and productivity.
- Further, it provides for re-registration of pesticides already registered under the erstwhile 1968 Act. This will bring instability in the pesticides industry across the country.
- It lacks a provision for emergency usage approvals of pesticides during any pest-infestation emergency. This will leave crops vulnerable to locust attacks, which left a trail of destruction in some parts of India recently, besides other pests such as fall armyworm, bollworm, etc. It imposes broad liabilities on pesticide manufacturers without accounting for situations wherein liability arises from factors beyond their control.
- In its present form, PMB has gaps that can directly impact the Centre’s goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
- By marginalizing the efficiencies of the domestic crop protection industry that has provided affordable and efficacious products to farmers – most of whom have small landholdings – PMB 2020 may further jeopardize farmers’ livelihoods and create concerns around food security.
- PMB provides a significant opportunity of reforming the agriculture sector by encouraging science-based solutions to problems faced by farmers and making agriculture more profitable and sustainable.
- There is a need to have a competent body to ensure strong governance and to oversee and review the decisions of the Registration Committee (RC).This can be easily achieved by amending Section 23 and 24 and corresponding sections in PMB where RC gets to review its own decisions.
- It is in the interest of the Indian farmers and the pesticides industry to have a transparent, stable and accountable legal regime.
- In the best interests of the farmers’ community, as well as society and industry at large, the Bill needs wider consultations within Parliament.
- Ideally, it should be placed before a select committee of Parliamentarians for critical review and necessary changes addressing the needs of farmers, Indian agriculture and the pesticides industry.
- This is imperative if India seeks to be Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) as a credible manufacturer and supplier of pesticides to the world while promoting food security objectives and generating employment opportunities for its people.
Pesticides Use in India