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Wrong mixing, sale of unauthorised chemicals and absence of protective gear are some of the causes of deaths of farmers and farm workers due to poisoning during spraying of pesticides, a report submitted to the Maharashtra government has said.
Several deaths due to pesticide poisoning have been reported from Yavatmal district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra in the last few weeks.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had last week ordered additional chief secretary (home) Sudhir Shrivastava to conduct an inquiry.
"Retailers advise farmers to use various combinations, which increases the concentration, making the pesticide more harmful. Correct use of pesticide is very important," Shrivastava, who has submitted the report to the government, told PTI.
Sale of unauthorised pesticides should be stopped completely, says the report.
The government should also ensure that farmers have access to the protective gear to be worn while spraying, he said.
"At times, high-discharge pumps are used, which require higher concentrations, and can cause greater harm to those using the product. Protective gear like aprons, masks and caps should be compulsory," Shrivastava said.
Pesticide manufacturers, suppliers and the local administration should organise training in proper use of pesticides for farmers, the report says.
It also calls for legal action against violation of license rules by pesticide manufacturers and sellers.
"It has been seen that companies give incentives over volume sales (bulk purchase). This needs to be looked into very carefully," he said.
Another cause of concern is difference between the prices of generic and branded pesticides, which can lead to "contamination", he said.
"The agriculture department has been advised to study this and take it up with the Centre," he said.
Farm activist and chief of the state government's task force on agriculture Kishor Tiwari claimed that at least 46 farmers have died due to inhalation of poisonous pesticides during spraying recently.
Twenty-two deaths have been reported in Yavatmal district, 16 in Nagpur, six in Akola and two in Buldhana, Tiwari said.
"Taking action only against traders will be of no use. The companies which sell pesticides made from internationally banned 'organophosphorus' should be disallowed from conducting business," he said.
The entire Vidarbha region should shift to organic farming, as in Sikkim, so as to avoid use of pesticides, Tiwari added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)