Farmers given 90 days to hand in chemicals

Farmers given 90 days to hand in chemicals

Importers must also destroy their stocks

Manufacturers or importers of hazardous agrochemicals paraquat and chlorpyrifos -- which are banned under Thai law -- have 270 days to destroy their stock while a 90-day deadline has also been given to farmers to return the chemicals for destruction as their possession is considered illegal, the Department of Agriculture says.

The announcement was made in line with the Ministry of Industry's decision on May 15 to place paraquat and chlorpyrifos on the list of hazardous chemicals and ban their use in the kingdom, effective from June 1.

Alongkorn Ponlaboot, adviser to the minister to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, said the ministry has set up a working group on the three hazardous agrochemicals to deal with the case, and guidelines for how to destroy the chemicals will be publicised at a later date.

According to the announcement, farmers in possession of paraquat and chlorpyrifos must return the chemicals to designated shops within 90 days, from June 1 until Aug 29.

Meanwhile, the shops designated to collect the chemicals have been given 120 days to collect and fill a form of returned items, which should not be later than Sept 28.

Moreover, complete documents must also be submitted to the department's officials.

The shops will also be in charge of sending returned items to manufacturers or importers who have been given 270 days to destroy them, which must not be later than Feb 25 next year.

They must fill a form to declare the amount returned, set up an eradication plan and submit the results of destruction to the department's officials. The task of destroying them must not fall to the department.

Any person who possesses the illegal agrochemicals will be fined one million baht, jailed for 10 years, or both.

Meanwhile, Thai Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN) coordinator Prokchon Usap said the department faces a challenging job creating a task force to create understanding with local farmers on how to deal with the two banned hazardous chemicals.

They should be informed on how to drop them at the shop properly and it would be useful if there are signs to let them know the drop locations.

"We won't regard this as a success but it is a step in the right direction for sustainable farming which relies less on chemicals.

"Thailand wants to be the world's kitchen and the government must have a clear policy to produce safe food for the world," she said.

However, Sukan Sangwanna, secretary-general of the Federation of Safe Agriculture, said the farmers are the ones most affected by the ban, saying there is no compensation for them even though they spent their own money to buy the chemicals.

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