Pesticides Hazardous Hotspots: Empirical Evidences from North India

Abstract

The pesticide use in Indian agriculture showed a declining trend in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since 2007, pesticide use gained an upward trend. To study the pesticide use pattern and identify pesticide hotspots, we collected data from a sample of 1201 apple, rice, vegetable, and cotton growers from the temperate Kashmir Valley, subtropical Jammu, and Punjab. Our study provided some interesting empirical results: prophylactic pesticide applications in apple crop making it a pesticide guzzler [25.2 kg of active ingredient (ai)/ha] with use of riskiest carcinogen pesticides (9 kg of a.i/ha) and field use environmental impact quotient (FEIQ) (620.4/ha) being the highest, the Kashmir Valley is the “pesticide hottest spot”, followed by cotton and rice areas of Punjab and vegetable cultivation in Jammu subtropics. Pesticides banned for use in vegetables, such as monocrotophos were also applied by farmers in vegetable crops. However, rice areas in Kashmir and Jammu were only treated with herbicides. The protective measures taken by farmers while mixing and applying pesticides were primitive, resulting in localized mild/moderate pesticide poisoning besides loss of consciousness. We also found that the official data on the pesticide use are underreported and hence unreliable. Our study shows that neither the pesticide use by mass nor the pesticide use frequency, in combination or alone, is the robust indicator to measure the pesticide hazardous hotspots; besides these, FEIQ and less hazardous pesticides that are not probable or possible carcinogen should be rather used in conjunction.

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Acknowledgements

This research was conducted under the Agricultural Extension Division of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research funded extramural project “Impact evaluation of integrated pest management technologies”. We are grateful to farmers from Kashmir, Jammu, and Punjab who spared their valuable time to provide information in face-to-face interview. We are highly grateful to Prof. John H. Perkins, Member of the Faculty Emeritus, the Evergreen State College, Kensington, CA, for critical comments and suggestions for improvement. We thank Sudha Prasad for editing the paper. We also thank three anonymous reviewers and editor-in-chief of this journal for their valuable criticism and comments that helped us to improve the article.

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Peshin, R., Hansra, B.S., Nanda, R. et al. Pesticides Hazardous Hotspots: Empirical Evidences from North India. Environmental Management (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-020-01317-1

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Keywords

  • Pesticide use in agriculture
  • Use of riskiest pesticides
  • Environmental impact
  • Pesticide hazards
  • Pesticide hotspots
  • Pesticide policy