Local forced to eat vegetables laced with pesticides

Kathmandu– Residents of Nepalgunj have been compelled to eat vegetables laced with pesticides due to the closure of Rapid Bioassay of Pesticides Residue (RBPR) lab set up at Rati Talau-based vegetable market in Nepalgunj.

Established by the Plant Protection Directorate, Kathmandu, two years ago, the RBPR has been closed for the past six months owing to the ignorance of the government. Vegetables vendors sell around 80 ton vegetables in the Rati Talau-based vegetable market on the daily basis.

Photo by Amish Regmi

The concerned authority imports vegetables from neighboring villages and also from Salyan, Dailekh, Narayangarh and bordering Indian markets. The Ministry of Agriculture had established the RBPR at the Rati Talau-based vegetable market by using modern technology and spending millions of rupees to check the quality of the vegetables.

According to the statistics of Plant Protection Directorate, around 350 metric ton pesticides have been consumed yearly in Nepal. Almost all the pesticides used in the vegetables have been imported from abroad.

Several studies have shown that though the Nepal government has imposed ban on selling and distributing various kinds of pesticides, they have been used illegally in the vegetable farming.

Though the pesticides have been used to protect crops from diseases, insects and birds, many farmers have been found using the pesticides to increase the production in a short period of time. The Ministry of Agriculture Development has been organising various programmes to avoid use of harmful pesticides, but in futile.

Vegetables and fruits should be consumed three weeks after the use of pesticides to reduce the risks and impacts on human health. According to agriculture experts, farmers have been found using excessive pesticides in brinjal, potato, radish, cauli, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin and onion among others and unseasonal vegetables.

A study report made public by the Plant Protection Directorate in 2013 stated that 13 types of pesticides were found using in the green vegetables which are harmful for human health.

According to the government statistics, the use of pesticides has been increasing by the rate of 10-20 percent in Nepal yearly.

Consumers have found the remains of pesticides in the vegetables send to the vegetable market few days after using the pesticides for the control of agricultural pests and vector-borne diseases.

The RBPR set up by using modern technology was closed due to the ignorance and sheer negligence of Ministry of Agriculture.

Rani Talau Agriculture produce market operator committee member Meraj Kabadiya said that the laboratory has been closed for the past six months due to the absence of staffers and lack of budget. The laboratory has also not paid the electricity bill for the past one-and-half year.

The NEA distribution centre has cut the power supply to the laboratory for failing to pay the electricity dues for a long.

Plant protection officer at the Agriculture Knowledge Centra, Banake and laboratory Chief Shakil Ahmad said that the problem has been seen in operating the laboratory due to the dilemma about how and which agency will operate the laboratory and how the budget and necessary staffers will be managed.

The quantity of the pesticides used in the vegetables brought to the market by farmers or wholesalers for sell could have been measured had the laboratory come into operation.

Agriculture produce market operator committee Chairman Motisara Thapa said that the vegetables laced with pesticides are being brought directly to the market without carrying out examination due to the closure of laboratory.

The use of vegetables and food products that contain pesticides have been affecting the human health due to the lack of awareness among farmers about when to harvest the crops and sent to the market after using the pesticides.

The vegetables and food products laced with sedatives will create problems in respiratory system, skin, nerves and immunity power among others.

Bherti Provincial Hospital Nepalgunj Chief Consultant Physician Dr Rajan Pandey said that the use of vegetables and food products that contain pesticides for a long time will greatly increase the risk of blood and skin cancer.

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