‘Grapes in local markets contain unsafe levels of pesticides compared to exported ones’

Limited availablity of testing equipment is a challenge

GRAPES commonly available in local markets in India have heavy amounts of pesticides, fungicides and insecticides surpassing international safety standards, thereby severely compromising the health of local consumers, according to Sanjay D Sawant, vice-chancellor of Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, during his address at the G B Joshi Memorial Lecture at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) in Pune on Sunday.

“Fruits cultivated in India need to comply more strictly to international food safety standards and must match the quality of fruits that are exported. It has come to light during the research spanning last 20 years, carried out in Nashik, Sangli and parts around Pune, that non-export grapes do not comply to any given safety standards. That is, we could trace higher residual amounts of pesticides and insecticides,” said Dr Sawant.

Yet another challenge faced while monitoring the levels of chemicals in fruit crops in India, according to Sawant, is the limited availability of advanced testing equipment and supportive skilled manpower. “Due to the lack of equipment and shortage in manpower, it is difficult to keep a vigil on chemicals that the farmers spray on the fruits,” he said.

The V-C also suggested that greater awareness needs to be created among the farming community about the hazards of over usage of pesticides and insecticides. “Information needs to be shared with the farmers about the correct usage of pesticides and insecticides. Though we do not recommend them to completely do away with the use of chemicals, information on appropriate use must be shared,” he said.