Even as it raises the banner of revolt against the European Union over the ban on the use of Endosulfan, the Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators’ Association of India (PMFAI) is gearing up to lock horns with the Central Insecticides Board and the Union Ministry of Agriculture over a threat to the pesticide industry — issuance of registrations to import readymade pesticide formulations, without registering the technicals. In an interview to K Rajani Kanth, PMFAI President Pradip Dave, also the vice-president of Endosulfan Manufacturers and Formulations’ Association, charts the association’s plans, including going to the Gujarat High Court. Edited excerpts:
Besides Endosulfan, what are the other issues facing the Indian pesticides industry? Lately, the Central Insecticides Board (CIB), a Government of India body, has been issuing registrations for import of readymade pesticide formulations without registering the technicals. This presents a great danger for the country as even the government would not be in a position to know where the raw material comes from and whether it is toxic, sub-standard or expired. And, if this registration process continues (without registering the technicals), there will not be any pesticide manufacturing activity in the country and we (manufacturers) will end up becoming re-packers.
So far, how many such registered products have entered India? Almost 18 products have been registered in the last seven-to-eight years, valued at more than Rs 4,000 crore, courtesy the vested interests of multinationals, especially from the European Union.
Are you making any representations to the Central government to cease such registrations? As per existing regulations, the pesticide industry needs to obtain clearance from the Central and State regulatory authorities before commencing production. All products need to be scrutinised and registered by CIB, and companies are required to submit various data and dossiers to the authorities, which is not the case at present. Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators’ Association of India (PMFAI), comprising 210 members – including large, medium and small-scale manufacturers – is now in the process of filing a writ petition against the secretary, Central Registration Committee, and the Union Ministry of Agriculture in the Gujarat High Court shortly, as the current registrations are against the Insecticide Act 1968.
What we are demanding is that registrations be issued for formulations as well as for technicals.
How has the growth been in terms of exports? Since 1967, PMFAI has been working hard to promote the export of pesticides of Indian origin. In 1997, our exports were only Rs 270 crore, while we are currently exporting pesticides worth Rs 7,800 crore. Next financial year, we will be clocking around Rs 8,500 crore, almost the size of the domestic market, which is Rs 8,000 crore.
On the Endosulfan front, what effort is PMFAI making to take on the EU’s campaign for its ban? India manufactures 900,000 tonnes of Endosulfan annually, controlling almost 80 per cent of world production. There is a strong motivation for European multinationals to replace widely-used generic and low-priced pesticides with their high-priced patented alternatives. The EU has been pushing for a global ban on Endosulfan by proposing to list it in the Stockholm Convention as a persistent organic pollutant (a toxic substance that is not biodegradable and persists in the environment).
If accepted, and if everybody starts banning this product, Endosulfan manufacture in India will be adversely affected in the next two to three years. However, the issue cannot be challenged in court and hence we are educating the Indian consumers (farmers) through awareness campaigns to dispel myths associated with Endosulfan.