Several decades earlier horticulture, handicrafts and tourism were the only established activities of commerce in Kashmir. Alongwith traditional farming these sectors were the backbone of our economy. However, during the last two decades these traditional sectors of economy got severe setback and it was only horticulture that could sustain our economic activity even under most constrained state of turmoil. Kashmir having the most favorable agro-climatic condition for temperate fruit crop and highly valued medicinal and aromatic cash crop cultivation has a prominent place in horticulture production in the region. Until seventies of the last century most of the horticulture activities in Kashmir were conventional; free from chemical fertilizers and other plant protection chemicals. With introduction of modern farming techniques and implements; use of synthetic products for soil fertility and plant protection whole of Agriculture sector got a flip with quantum jump in quality production.
However, with the passage of time exploiters took the centre stage. Be it supply of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides or marketing the deceptive trade practice like any other trade plagued the entire horticulture sector.
Now, for the last more than three decades an established cartel of spurious pesticide suppliers and substandard fertilizer dealers are clandestinely robbing the horticulture producers of their hard earned earnings. Clandestinely! Because this exploitation and fleecing goes on unabated without knowledge of the farmer or any other member directly associated with the trade. It all starts from the multinational pesticide companies and their national associates, through the conduit of prescribing authorities and agencies along with quality control monitoring and certifying authorities and local distributor the murky trade ends at the doorstep of deprived farmer. Interestingly, even most of the retailers are unaware of spurious chemicals they deal in, not to talk of innocent and gullible farmers.
The multinational companies with monopoly in a specific product supply highly concentrated ‘technical product’ and formulations to their associates in India who after processing the same with additives market it under their own brand name through an insistent and exploitative chain of marketing. Over the period of time many bogus and more aggressive companies have entered into the arena of chemical pesticides and fungicides and are resorting to every overt and covert trade practice to sustain in highly competitive plant protection industry.
There are several agencies at administrative level to check this deceptive malpractice and the most vital agency to check and filter the spurious pesticides and substandard chemical fertilizers is law enforcement wing working under directorate of agriculture with administrative control of Agriculture Production Department. This grassroots level enforcement agency is entrusted with the responsibility to scrutinize and curb the menace of substandard and spurious pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the entire agriculture sector with the technical support of well equipped chemical analyzing Quality control laboratory. The enforcement wing of Agriculture department is empowered to inspect any premises related to fertilizer and pesticide production, storing, distribution or marketing and is empowered to confiscate substandard material and prosecute the agency or individual involved in dirty trade. Quality control laboratory is a notified laboratory and its analysis report can stand in any court of law.
Sorry to say, the spurious pesticide and fertilizer dealers know tricks of false trade better than the law enforcing agencies and other administrative apparatus linked with curbing unfair trade practices. From the point of excessive or adulterated additives at manufacturing plants to supply and marketing chain the unscrupulous dealers know how to get through the regulatory mechanism with active support of their moles within the enforcement mechanism. Beyond bypassing the regulatory mechanism by money and muscle power this cartel is well connected with the corridors of power and are well versed with the lacunas in enforcement and legal loopholes in eventual prosecution. Exploitative sham pesticide trade chain is so well connected that unless radical changes on this front are not made effective at an earliest this trade will go on unabatedly not only fleecing the farmers but will ruin the entire promising Horticulture industry and serene environs of valley.
Agriculture as a whole, but more prominently horticulture sector with cash crop standing has the vast potential to sustain our survival, contribute substantially to economy and provides work to a major portion of population. Checking spurious pesticides menace will not only ensure production of quality disease and pest free horticulture products for profitable marketing but will save this environment friendly self sustaining industry from extinction. Authorities should induce fresh blood of administrative reforms for proper and effective law enforcement and check the dishonest elements within the system who otherwise allow crooked traders to flourish and resort to undue profiteering at the cost of poor farmers and environment.