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Kerala gets cautious

By Savvy Soumya Misra

, by Down to earth

Plans to ban extremely and moderately hazardous pesticides in cardamom district, Idukki.

Endosulfan poisoning in Kasaragod district has made the Kerala government cautious in its approach to use of pesticides. Agriculture minister M Retnakaran recently announced that the ban on extremely and moderately hazardous pesticides in Kasaragod will be extended to Idukki district. The news augurs well for Idukki, known for its cardamom and tea plantations.

A 2009 study showed pesticide use in cardamom plantations in Idukki was one of the world’s highest. On an average, farmers use 27 kg of pesticides in a hectare (ha) of cardamom plantation and 9 kg in a ha of tea garden, as per the study by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru. India’s average pesticide use is 0.5 kg per ha.

“We found residues of at least seven pesticides in cardamoms collected from the Cardamom Hill Reserve,” said Muthuswamy Murugan, associate professor at the Cardamom Research Station of Kerala Agriculture University. He was part of the NIAS study team. Levels of highly toxic pesticides like trizophos, quinalphos and endosulfan were high. The Central Insecticides Board advises only two pesticides for cardamom, quinalphos and phenthoate (see Promoting pesticides).

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