Impact of pesticides on crops

Post Source: Dawn Economic and Business Review


By Tahir Ali Khan




NEARLY 50 per cent of the pesticides used in the country are highly hazardous. Their residue causes skin and nervous system`s toxicity.

Waters containing pesticides, when used for drinking purposes, can be harmful, ranging from mild headache and skin allergy to cancer of internal organs.

Its adverse effects on health depend upon the degree of toxicity, amount of water intake each day and the individual`s health. Adverse effects on human health can also be caused by impurities in pesticides.

The threat of pesticide resistance to agricultural productivity is accelerating as commercial development of new pesticides has slowed down. It is estimated that for developing a pesticide, over 15,000 chemicals are screened over a period of about 8-10 years. At present, the major strategy in controlling pest is the use of chemicals, some of which belong to WHO category A and B, extremely hazardous.

Since 1980, there has almost been a linear increase in the use of pesticides. At present nearly, 86 pesticide companies are registered with the federal agriculture ministry. During 1994, pesticides consumption was 23,212 metric tons. Widespread use of pesticides has resulted in their presence and persistence in various crops and their occurrence in food and products. About 30 per cent of potential crop production in the world is lost every year due to bad weather, pests and diseases. The losses may increase further if the use of pesticides is abandoned.

A variety of pesticide chemicals are available in the market for the control of insect pests, attacking vegetable and other crops. Each crop is susceptible to attack by more than one pests. It is usually treated with several pesticides before harvest. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the total pesticides consumed in the country are used for the protection of cotton crop, from July to October.

The historical analysis of pest occurrence indicates that the current system of pest management, which relies mainly on the use of pesticides (over six spray/season), is responsible for the change in cotton pest complex and is a never ending practice.

Conclusion: The pests, diseases and weeds cause heavy losses to both major and minor crops in the country. Some experts estimate such losses to be as high as 20 per cent and even more.

The indiscriminate use of pesticides has to be discouraged and sale of adulterated ones be strictly banned. Quality control of chemicals, being used against pests and diseases, needs to be strictly enforced so that their effectiveness is not impaired.

Furthermore, instead of importing chemicals, indigenous products (such as use of neem leaves etc) be encouraged by providing needed facility, so that they are easily available to farmers at low prices.

It is also the duty of concerned agency of pesticides to ensure distribution and sale of its products to the farmers without compromising ethical standards.


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