15 die of pesticide poisoning in Yavatmal

15 die of pesticide poisoning in Yavatmal
A number of farmers are said to be dying of insecticide poisoning in the Yavatmal district of Vidharba region of Maharashtra, which is known for large-scale farm suicides.

Nearly 15 deaths of tribal farm workers in the past fortnight due to pesticide poisoning and 600 insecticide inhalation cases have been reported so far.

Deaths due to insecticide poisoning has been emerging as a major cause of concern, according to Kishor Tiwari, chief of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission — the state government’s task force that deals with the farm distress.

“Indiscriminate and faulty use with wrong combinations of pesticides, and direct and extended exposure to insecticides without any protective gear for days together are some of the apparent reasons for the death of farmers and farm workers in Yavatmal district,” Tiwari said in a press statement.

No precaution
A team of experts that visited the crisis-hit area found that most of the farm labours engaged in spraying want to cover as many areas as possible in a day to earn more.

Also, they try to work in as many fields as possible in the season. They end up working for 8-10 hours a day at a stretch whereas they should be working just in morning hours without eating or drinking.

“The farmers take smoke breaks, tobacco chewing breaks or drink water without washing their hands after spraying.

“They don’t even wear a shirt allowing more body area to be exposed to the pesticide,” he said.

Tiwari has claimed that this year the situation could worsen, as the Bt cotton seeds were now susceptible to the attack of not only the pink worm, but also thips, mealybug and regular bollworm.

With over 40 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation, Maharashtra has the largest area of the cotton crop in the country.

Tiwari said that S Kendrekar, the former agriculture commissioner, had recently apprised the deputy director (quality control) of Union agriculture ministry about the situation.

According to him, incidents of pink worm attacks were reported last year also and the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) had confirmed it.

He has urged the government to ban chemical farming in the state in order to stop the deaths.
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