Pesticide consumption in India grew by 13.07 per cent in India between 2014-15 and 2017-18
Maharashtra consumed the most chemical pesticides in India in the past five years at 61,138 tonnes, followed by Uttar Pradesh (UP) at 52,747 tonnes and Punjab at 29,394 tonnes, according to non-profit Pesticide Action Network (PAN).
Maharashtra increased its pesticide consumption by 35.6 per cent between 2014-15 and 2018-19, while UP reported an increase of 14.17 per cent.
Pesticide consumption across the country grew by 13.07 per cent between 2014-15 and 2017-18, according to the report by PAN. Biopesticides accounted for only 10 per cent of the total pesticides consumed, on an average.
The country used 69,282 tonnes of pesticides (chemical and biopesticides combined) in 2017-18, a sharp increase from the 61,273 tonnes used in 2014-15 and 16 per cent higher than pesticides used in 2015-16.
Provisional data showed 60,201 tonnes of pesticide were consumed in 2018-19.
The amount consumed could be much more, however, as the data from PAN does not show pesticide consumption from four north east states and union territories.
The number of active ingredients registered for use also increased by 27 per cent to 292 in 2019 from 230 in 2011.
Insecticide and weedicide production increased in 2015-16, while fungicide and rodenticides declined.
Researchers, however, noted huge gaps and discrepancies in data from 2014-15 to 2018-19 on the website of the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQ&S) that falls under the agriculture ministry.
One such discrepancy shows the total amount of pesticides produced in the country to be much lesser than the amount that was exported.
The total amount produced by the country was 212,699 tonnes, while 111,176 tonnes was imported. The total amount exported, however, was shown to be 410,070 tonnes, which is a negative gap of 88,378 tonnes.
It was compiled by the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals and Directorate General of Statistics & Commercial Intelligence, during zonal conferences for kharif and rabi seasons each year, according to the website, the PAN report noted.
“In 2018-19, export is more than twice of the production, posing questions on reliability of the data. Looking at these discrepancies one can easily doubt the credibility of pesticide monitoring and data management system as well as the process it follows,” the report said.
“Statistical data on state-wise consumption data shows a huge difference. In the case of production, only 43 products are reflected in the data, whereas statistical data on indigenous pesticides shows data on 265 products,” it added.
The discrepancies questioned the credibility of official pesticide statistics and raised concerns of non-reporting and underreporting actual production and consumption, according to Dileep Kumar, assistant director, PAN India.
PAN India is the regional branch of PAN, an international coalition of non-profit organisations working towards reducing dependence on toxic chemicals in agriculture.
“There are two possibilities: One is that there is underreporting of data from the production end by the industries to save taxes. Another possibility is that consumption data is underreported to build a notion that India uses less per unit of per hectare consumption of pesticides,” Kumar said.
“It points to poor monitoring and data management, which needs to be improved a lot in assessing reality of pesticide sector in India,” he added.
The statistical data also showed banned pesticides were imported in India.
The pesticide aldrin was banned in India according to a list of banned pesticides 2014, and in the lists of subsequent years.
The pesticide was, however, imported during 2014-15 (502 tonnes of tech grade) and 2015-16 (79 tonnes).
This pointed to the usage of banned pesticide in India, according to the report.
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