Most of the imported pesticides like Cartap Hydrochloride are not manufactured in India and any move to increase customs duty on them will make these products costlier for domestic farmers, Dhanuka Agritech Chairman R G Agarwal said on Wednesday.
Speaking to PTI, he said new and effective pesticide molecules developed elsewhere in the world should be made available to Indian farmers at a cheaper rate rather than forcing them to use outdated pesticides, which are banned in other nations but still being used in the country.
Import of new pesticide molecules should be continued to be permitted at lower custom duty when India has not done any investment in research of such products. The pesticides used in India at present are not developed here, he added.
Last week, Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) had urged the government to increase the import duty on technical and finished pesticides to 20-30 per cent from 10 per cent to protect the domestic agrochemicals industry.
Agarwal said, "We should not increase the cost of the molecule which is not manufactured in India by increasing the customs duties. If any product that is manufactured here but still been imported, then I agree with PMFAI an action should be taken to protect the domestic industry".
In such cases, the government can think of imposing anti-dumping duties to curb such shipments, he added.
The agrochemicals maker's chairman said new technologies like Halosulfuron Methyl (Sempra) -- a weedicide --- is imported from Japan that is helping farmers improve their income. For instance, a farmer has to invest Rs 1,500 per acre and will get a minimum benefit of Rs 15,000 per acre.
Agarwal said there are many such new technologies developed in the world, but not reaching to Indian farmers because of delay in the registration process and high cost of registration here.
However, in case of Cartap Hydrochloride molecule used in paddy pest control, the government has given 25 registrations to domestic players, but they are not manufacturing, he noted.
Slamming a section of pesticide industry demanding an increase in import duty in the name of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', Agarwal said they are doing it to protect their business.
"Those demanding the hike in import duty do not have international tie-ups. They have no access to new technology. That is the reason they are opposing or want to restrict new technology by increasing import duty so that it becomes unviable and they may continue the sale of their outdated molecules in the country," he said.
Asked about the industry being divided on the issue, the chairman said: "Unfortunately, agriculture speciality pesticides sector is misunderstood in the country and not supported properly by the government".
Even the government says the industry is divided. "The government should listen to all stakeholders and take call in the interest of the nation and farmers," he added.