Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ministries scramble to offset loss of toxic pesticides

Nov 07. 2019
Chalermchai Sri-on , Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister
Chalermchai Sri-on , Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister
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By The Nation

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An Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry taskforce established to help farmers affected by a ban on three dangerous pesticides is studying every impact on the industry and considering supportive measures, minister Chalermchai Sri-on said on Wednesday (November 6).

He said the panel was also mulling ways to safely manage remaining stocks of the chemicals.

The taskforce is collaborating with the Ministry of Public Health, which is monitoring residual substances in farm produce imported from countries that still use toxic substances, and the Industry Ministry, which is preparing to assist farmers hurt if the import of possibly contaminated products such as livestock feed is suspended.

The Commerce Ministry is on the alert for retailers increasing the price of permitted pesticides to take advantage of the ban, and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society for the sale of unregistered substances. 

All measures must be in place by December 1, the day the ban on the three toxic pesticides – paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos – goes into effect, Chalermchai said.

Vice Minister of Agriculture Narapat Kaewthong said the taskforce is primarily concerned about growers of sugarcane, cassava, oil palm, rubber, corn and fruit, who will have to make substantial changes in their production process without the banned chemicals, including hiring more manpower to deal with weeds and pests. 

He said agricultural cooperatives might have to begin encouraging wider use of machines on the plantations, which would also require production changes.

More farm subsidies might be necessary as well, Narapat said. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture will study the possibility of shipping remaining stocks of the banned chemicals before December 1 to countries that still use them to avoid the high disposal cost of up to Bt100,000 per tonne.

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