Forum for Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health & Agriculture
A South Asian Initiative on Development Communication
Projects Detail
Campaign to arrest the growth of fake pesticide, through media awareness, sensitization of administration

Stop Counterfeit Pesticides, Save Farmers फसलों को बचाना है, नकली कीटनाशक को हराना है About the Campaign Crop protection is integral to farmers and farming. With the growing global populations constantly challenging food production, crop protection products offer a means towards meeting the challenge of more food, less land. Food crops must compete with 30,000 species of weeds, 3,000 species of nematodes and 10,000 species of plant-eating insects. We know that despite the use of modern crop protection products 20-40% of potential food production is still lost every year to pests. These losses can occur while the crop is growing in the field,

when it is in storage and in the home. In short, an adequate, reliable food supply cannot be guaranteed without the use of crop protection products. Thanks to advances in R&D, Indian farmers are bestowed with a range of very effective and crop-specific solutions that have resulted in higher productivity at farms and prosperity of farmers. However, the crop protection industry, which is estimated at Rs 9,000 cr, is grappling with the problem of counterfeit products. According to estimates, the market is full of fake products and is estimated to be worth Rs 3,000 cr – some say if illegal pesticide producers were to form a single company, they would be fourth or fifth largest. Fijeeha has been at the forefront of taking up concerns pertaining energy, environment, health and agriculture. We believe that the issue of fake pesticide is vital and efforts must be made to arrest this for the benefit of farmers, and the nation. We are launching a sustained campaign to create awareness among media, academia, scientists, development sector and policy makers. We shall also endeavour to sensitise farmers and provide them requisite safeguards. Why we need to curb fake pesticide? Pesticides are substances of chemical or biological origin, used by human society to mitigate or repel pests such as bacteria, nematodes, insects, mites, mollusks, birds, rodents, and other organisms that affect food production or human health. They usually act by disrupting some component of the pest's life processes to kill or inactivate it.

Pesticides also include substances such as insect attractants, herbicides, plant defoliants, desiccants, and plant growth regulators. Makers of spurious pesticides usually imitate popular and expensive brands from multi-national and leading Indian manufacturers that have better acceptance among farmers. They may contain some hidden active ingredients which may not comply with the label requirements. Since most spurious pesticide manufacturing and sale operations are conducted without bills and invoices, the government loses excise revenue every year. Spurious pesticides are inferior formulations, which fail to kill pests and also inflict damage to the crops - poor and marginal farmers unwittingly fall prey to such cheap products and end up having low crop, low yield or no produce at-all. Illegal herbicides, insecticides or fungicides are now being manufactured stealthily and distributed globally by organised crime for big returns. Unlike registered products, which undergo rigorous independent testing before being placed on the market, illegal pesticides are neither tested nor suitable for use. Nothing guarantees that a counterfeit product contains what is described on the label; a reality that can have damaging consequences for crops and human health. They pose threats to farmers through crop and reputation destruction, as well as dangerous exposure during application. Residue may be carried on food to consumers.

These products do not have a responsible company to stand behind them and are therefore not designed to provide the highest level of human health and environmental protection. This is why the global trade in illegal pesticides is of growing concern for customs, enforcement authorities, farmers, the food chain and the crop protection industry. It is alarming that a rising number of bio-products may claim to be effective for pest and disease control, and yet make no formal claims to be categorized as official 'bio-pesticides.' According to the Insecticides Act of 1968, bio-pesticides or biologically derived products claiming pest (and disease) control activities are to be formally registered, with appropriate supporting data. If they do not do it, they are essentially illegal. Sample analysis of some so-called bio-products show that they contain pesticide active ingredients and therefore show biological activity on pests. However, they are not registered and marketed as 'bio-products.' It is a matter of serious concern for the whole agricultural industry that illegal 'bio-products' are being openly sold as pesticides without any regulation and are openly flouting and violating the requirements of the Insecticides Act. Illegal or spurious bio-products can have serious impacts: Risk of improper product handling: Farmers purchasing a 'bio-product' will not expect to handle a product containing potentially risky pesticides and may not have appropriate personal protective equipment in place when applying the product, thus exposing them to unnecessary risks. Damage to the environment and crop: If the bio-product contains an illegal pesticide, it can cause damage to the environment, present an occupational health risk for farmers, destroy crops and could result in reduced yields and poor food quality. Damage reputation of genuine companies: Illegal bio-products are sometimes sold with labels copying popular brands of reputable companies, violating trademarks and copyrights and can cause serious loss of reputation of genuine companies. Jeopardise commercial exports: Illegal bio-products put export crops and crop by-products at risk of being rejected by international buyers who insist on buying produce treated with legally registered genuine products only.

Farmers are the ultimate victims: In case of any loss or damage farmers cannot contact illegal manufacturers for any support! Loss of tax revenue: Government stands to lose as these products are not regulated. What's the need? Fake pesticide industry is estimated to be at the tune of Rs 3000 cr. In order to address the growing menace we shall have to launch a concerted effort and all concerned stakeholders including administration, pesticide industry, distributors and retailers - shall need to create a collaborative front. Fijeeha thinks the following should be done immediately: Any bio-product sold in the garb of claiming pest control should be mandated for registration as per the provisions of Insecticides Act, 1968 and Insecticide Rules, 1971 Any such bio-product should be banned immediately and authorities must ensure that strong actions are taken against illegal manufacturers The regulatory authorities should monitor and carry out stringent inspections of retailers and manufacturing units for the presence of illegal 'bio-products' Serious efforts by the Agriculture Department officials under the Insecticides Act, 1968 and Insecticide Rules, 1971 and Legal Meteorology inspectors under the provisions of Legal Metrology Act, 2009 for rigorous sampling at retailer's shops should become a standard practice Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies should take this issue on a priority as this pertains the future of farmers and safety of food Dealers and distributors should actively participate in this drive against fake pesticide At Fijeeha, we shall be carrying out awareness campaigns through media besides reaching out to policy makers and scientists seeking their support.

Look forward to your support in your campaign. How you can contribute Join our workshops Create awareness among farmers Raise alarm when you find something amiss Be a friend of farmers and create awareness in your community And do write to us at:

Development News Updates

Events & Media Coverage

Video Corner