Imports of 3 pesticides to be cut in half

Imports of 3 pesticides to be cut in half

Govt hopes to phase out use by next year

Activists perform a ritual symbolising their resistance to government-approved pesticides such as paraquat and chlorpyrifos, at Government House last year. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Activists perform a ritual symbolising their resistance to government-approved pesticides such as paraquat and chlorpyrifos, at Government House last year. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Agricultural officials will halve the imports of three controversial pesticides, including paraquat, as part of a push to phase out and ban the chemicals by next year.

The move comes after the Hazardous Substance Committee decided in February not to ban paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos despite repeated calls from scholars, consumer groups and state agencies, including the Public Health Ministry.

The import restriction is among measures to ensure fewer and safer uses of the pesticides as well as to find alternative solutions for farmers. According to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, the last purpose will be conducive to a complete ban on the chemicals.

The import restriction is among measures to decrease use of the pesticides and find alternative solutions for farmers.

"I set 2020 as the year to abandon all of these pesticides," Agriculture and Cooperatives minister Grisada Boonrach said on Wednesday.

Halving the imports, which will allow officials to better control the influx of several tonnes of the pesticides into Thailand, will help pave the way to achieving that goal. Between four and six tonnes of each of the three pesticides are imported every year. This must be reduced to between two and three tonnes, Mr Grisada said.

His ministry included the import measures in its five ministerial laws issued to limit the use of the three chemicals. The laws were announced on Wednesday in the Royal Gazette, and will come into effect within 180 days.

The pesticides that are allowed in farms will also be subject to strict control, Mr Grisada said. The ministry will regularly monitor the amount of the chemicals coming into the country. Importers and retailers are required to inform officials every 15 days of their stock levels and sales.

Officials on Wednesday also started a two-day training session to produce over 2,200 well-trained experts in the proper use of the three chemicals. They will then train 1.5 million farmers nationwide between June and September.

Local officials, including village heads and Tambon Administration Organisation officials, will be assigned to help the government inspect whether farmers follow the safety guidelines.

According to Mr Grisada, those who plant sugarcane, corn, fruit, palm and rubber will be allowed to spray their crops with paraquat and glyphosate while the other chemical, chlorpyrifos, will be used mainly by flower growers.


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