Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dangerous chemicals in farming

Dangerous chemicals in farming

It was only last week that an international conference in Dhaka strongly pleaded for guarding against use of chemicals for ensuring safe food. But then it is worrying to note that pineapple growers are spraying hormones and different types of chemicals untimely and excessively on pineapples in Madhupur of Tangail to increase the size of the fruit, exposing the consumers to health hazards. Due to this malpractice the famous Madhupur pineapple is losing its original taste and it is losing its charm to the consumers. Madhupur region produces over one lakh tonnes of the delicious fruit a year and it is sent to different parts of the country including the capital. A few years back the government gave the pineapple growers permission to use hormones in a limited scale so that they can get yield of the fruit all the year round. But taking advantage of it the growers are misusing it. Hormones are supposed to be used 15 days before and 15 days after the budding stage for better flowering of the plant and preventing the flower buds from shedding. But the farmers use hormones in an excessive amount on mature fruits to make these bigger in the hope of better profits. Many growers use hormones according to the instructions of local pesticides shop owners because they do not know about the proper use of the hormones. Spraying hormones on the mature fruits before harvesting helps ripen all the fruits of an orchard together. This prompts the growers to use it indiscriminately not thinking of its detrimental effects. It is the responsibility of the agriculture department officials to create consciousness among the growers and to motivate them to grow the fruit without hormones. Profit making is all right but surely not by endangering public health. The issue of public health must be taken into account seriously. Recent findings released by the Ministry of Health's National Food Safety Laboratory—of high residues of banned pesticides, and chemical preservatives in fresh produce samples from local markets in Dhaka—confirm the widely held suspicion that food control in Bangladesh is inadequate. The results suggest that farmers are using a cocktail of toxic chemicals in their efforts to fight insect pests - and that they are not sufficiently aware of the need to stop using them before harvesting. The results also indicate deliberate adulteration of produce to extend its shelf life, using chemical preservatives without concern for the health of consumers. Other results have previously highlighted contamination by microorganisms, leading to acute food poisoning cases in consumption of fruit, occasionally with tragic consequences. The press is commended for drawing attention to such cases, but the question is what can be done to prevent them happening? And it is not sufficient just to tell consumers to be more careful, or to avoid buying mangoes from certain vendors! More work is needed to understand what advice farmers are being given; what chemicals they are using; where they are getting them. There may also be initiatives to control the availability of toxic pesticides which are banned but are still produced in neighbouring countries; there may still be stockpiles of such chemicals in Bangladesh which need to be disposed of safely.

Share |