Chemicals and Petrochemical Secretary, P Raghavendra Rao concurred with the industry's view on the need for data protection provisions in the Insecticides Act to encourage R&D in crop protection products and combat the menace of spurious pesticides, according to a latest update from the FICCI. Inaugurating the 7th National Agrochemicals Conference 2018, organised by FICCI jointly with the Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare and the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Government of India, Rao advised the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIB&RC) to engage in this area expeditiously.

He said that agrochemicals had a significant role in ushering in the second green revolution as data showed that 30% of agrochemicals currently in use in agriculture sector were spurious or of sub-standard quality. Expressing concern at the high wastage or loss of food annually, currently reckoned at 40% of food production, of which 20% was attributed to pests, he said that it was imperative for all stakeholders to put their heads together to come up with workable solutions to crop losses.

He also suggested that efforts should be made to make farmers aware of the genuineness of plant protection pesticides so that the fake products could be kept at bay. He also laid stress on food and nutritional security and emphasised the critical role of micro-irrigation. Rio said that the period for data protection in the development of pesticides should be no less than 10 years and underlined the need for such a regulation in India.

Rao also released a FICCI- Tata Strategic Management Group Knowledge Paper titled 'Doubling Farmers' Income: Role of Crop Protection Chemicals & Solutions'. The FICCI- Tata Strategic Management Group Knowledge Paper states that Indian farmers have a critical role to play to ensure that Indian agriculture not only meets the needs of an exploding population in India, but also caters to the global need for nutrition. However, a lot needs to be done to empower farmers so as to turn the poverty-ridden farmers into self-sufficient ones.

The key imperatives for the government in this regard are: Investment in irrigation infrastructure as 54% of land under cultivation is still dependent on rainwater; linking farmers with e-NAM and other such digital platforms to ensure better prices for output and prevent farmer exploitation; to pass the Pesticide Management bill 2017 and strictly enforce regulations for manufacturing, inspection, testing and distribution of pesticides and also establish system of licensing; formulate a single anti-counterfeiting committee/body to arrest the spread of non-genuine pesticides; micro loans for farmers to invest in pesticides, fertilisers, seeds and other focus areas like poultry and animal husbandry which serve as alternative sources of income.

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