ASSOCHAM hosts an interaction on Invasive and Migratory Pest Management with the stakeholders

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23 November 2020, New Delhi, IN: ASSOCHAM today hosted an interaction on Invasive and Migratory Pest Management calling in the Agriculture industry, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and other allied stakeholders to discuss the challenges and way forward.

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Globally, up to 30% of agricultural yields are affected by pests and diseases despite intensive use of crop protection chemical. Apart from these elements the agricultural economy in India is vulnerable to threat from exotic pests/diseases which act as the bottle neck in increasing yield. Therefore, management of invasive pests is essential in safeguarding food supply and surplus production.

The Chief Guest of the event, Mr. Parshottam Rupala, Minister of State for Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare shared his views and guided the forum on ways forward. He said that there are alot of pest which harm the food security. The need of the hour is a long term policy which should not treat these invasive pests as emergency.

He emphasized on the need of a forum which should be formed for dissemination of information. Regarding the sale of spurious pesticide he urged the industry to suggest a way out to curb the same. He further suggested to discuss the outcomes of today’s meeting to take proper actions.

Mr. Deepak Sood, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM, focused on the importance of agriculture sector in generating employment and income generation. Agriculture also ensures food security in India. Geopolitical and border threats today are emerging every now and then. He said that the invasive pest can alter the water levels, change environment conditions and cause various diseases.

Mr. Raju Kapoor, Director Corporate Affairs, FMC Corporation, shared a presentation with audience which included the various pests and the way the entered India in last 15 years. He mentioned the program SAFFAL (Safeguarding Agriculture & Farmers against Fall Armyworm) launched by FMC which provided a case study on Fall Armyworm management in India. He said that to deliver sustainable solutions to farmers, it is necessary to create awareness, have capacity building, provide resources and a much needed partnership. He said that communication is the key including media awareness and dissemination of collaterals. He focused on the transparency of the process, it should be inclusive, science driven and collaborative.

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Mr. Sagar Kaushik, COO, UPL Ltd. said that it is important to understand the role of agrochemicals in safeguarding food crops and environmental safety. He said that not only these pests are harmful when they enter India but when agriculture products are exported these might be detrimental to other parts of the world as well. He suggested the Hon’ble Minister to form a committee to allow a proper dissemination of information regarding these pests. He emphasized that early surveillance can be one of the ways to curb the growth of these pest. He further suggested that we need to be more prepared to handle such pests rather than treating it as an emergency situation always which will be possible by proper collaboration and proper information.

Mr. R G Aggarwal, Chairman, Dhanuka Agri Tech said that there is no other pest bigger than COVID. He said that only one pest can bring the productivity down by 50% and now we have a series of these pests sothe need of the hour is to create awareness and understand the nature of these pests. Few points that he mentioned included the importance of agriculture inputs including pesticides and the need to register more pesticides by easing the process of registration.

It’s takes time and money to register a new pesticide and the process is really cumbersome which should be eased, he added. This will help the industry to come up with relevant solution at the earliest. He mentioned that 25-30% pesticides are spurious which is a threat to the industry and needs to be solved.

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Mr. Rahoul SawaniMD- South Asia, Corteva Agrisciences, said that the country has faced a lot of challenges this year but agriculture sector showed growth in first quarter even when the economy was bad. He said that our food system is very fragile because we react rather than being proactive but it is necessary to build these reactions into the system. He mentioned that innovation is the solution for many things and accelerating the use of these innovative products to India can help fight these invasive and migratory pests. Proactive engagement is required. He mentioned the importance of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and the ways technologies can be used to give farmers control over the situation for a longer period of time.

Mr. Subhash Chandra, Professor and Principal Scientist, IARI said that these invasive pests can come through import, quarantine negligence and many other ways. They leave behind their environmental resistance and development resistance in new area making it more difficult to get rid of them. Strengthening international alliances, quick detection and prevention and first communication which requires collaboration of various industry verticals is the way forward to control these pests. Effective strategy also include mapping of swarming areas so that they may be destroyed.

Sharing his views Shri Rajvir Rathi, Head – Public Affairs, Science & Sustainability, Bayer Crop Science & Co Chairman, National Council on Agriculture & Farm Inputs, said that moving from emergency response to proactively approaching the situation is what is required in the present scenario. He said it is very important to have proper information on 3 categories of pests including, the pests which are around the world and can come to India as invasive or migratory pests, pests which are known to us and are in India but haven’t become invasive and the pests which are in India and are harming crops. He said that we should all work in a coordinated manner to really solve the problem. A forum including government, industry, FPO’s and farmers who can provide a real-time data should be formed immediately for us to become more proactive than reactive. He also gave the concluding remarks and the vote of thanks.

The session was moderated by Prof. V Padmanand, Partner, Grant Throntan Bharat and was well attended by key stakeholders of the industry ecosystem.

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