On the occasion of 4th Annual General Meeting of Agro Chem Federation of India (ACFI), an association of agrochemical industry held on Friday, organised a brainstorming technical discussion on the topic “Plant Protection Chemicals: The basic requirement for Sustainable Agriculture”, mentioning the importance to educate the farmers about the judicious and justified use of plant protection chemicals (pesticides), and how that the agrochemical industry needs to collectively work on the perception management.
In his keynote address Dr. SK Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner & Chairman, Registration Committee, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said, “the government is working towards Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee (CIBRC) reforms and ease of doing registration.” He also expressed concern about the unorganised pesticide industry and hoped the industry body would work towards making it organised.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. SC Dubey, Assistant Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), emphasised on indigenous new molecules, setting up of R&D and data protection to encourage new technologies.
Welcoming all the attendees at the AGM, outgoing President of ACFI, NK Aggarwal, expressed his appreciation towards all the members, for their overwhelming support to him and expressed pleasure ACFI has gradually established itself as a true platform for policy interventions and a vocal flag-waver for the entire Indian agrochemical industry in a transparent and a democratic way.
He also urged the government to extend support for the uncomplicated registration process and bring modification to the Pesticide Management Bill. He also expressed upon the need for skill development and enhancing awareness of the farmers, dealers and distributors.
Pesticide Management Bill (PMB) – 2020 was introduced in Rajya Sabha by the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, on March 23, 2020 and later it was referred to the Standing Committee on June 3, 2021.
ACFI recommendations to Pesticide Management Bill
The 2020 Bill does not specify a time limit for registration. To ensure speedy registration, transparency and efficiency in the functioning of the Registration Committee, the registration must be granted within one year of application.
PMB-2020 does not talk about the “serious problems” of the grants of thousands of ghost registrations and hundreds of licenses, increasing complaints against pesticides quality by farmers, poor quality control enforcement.
It doesn’t address the issue of bringing newer and better molecules to India.
Regulatory Data Protection is one of the biggest concerns of the agrochemical industry. But it has not been included in PMB 2020. Registration of a new pesticide requires the applicant to submit safety and efficacy data generated over a number of years. Data protection will ensure that the data generated would not be relied upon to grant registration for the same pesticide to any other person for a specified time. To be a global hub of agrochemicals, India must offer a globally acceptable and an enabling business environment, to encourage molecule discoverers to bring maximum possible molecules to benefit Indian farmers, and with growing volumes even manufacture them in India.
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PMB-2020 suggests that higher punishments alone would ensure quality products. Whereas it should ensure that only responsible persons with the ability to adequately invest in both safety and efficacy are allowed to obtain registrations and get manufacturing licenses so that the farmers will get only the genuine products. Both under the existing Act and proposed Bill no qualifications are required to obtain a registration which makes obtaining a manufacturing license from the state is very simple. This is evident by the fact that there are more than 4,000 firms that have been granted over 150,000 registrations.
PMB-2020 does not prescribe the minimum standards required for the Central Insecticides Laboratory and the State Pesticides Testing Laboratories, which presently is a huge deterrent to quality enforcement.