Plantation sector to seek exemption from new regulations on glyphosate use

Planters say it would be prohibitively expensive to hire a professional to spray the herbicide in the large, isolated planting areas.

Glyphosate is used to control weeds in tea plantations, coffee plantations and rubber plantations by soil application.

The plantation industry believes it should be exempt from the new glycosate regulations. According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Agriculture earlier this week, the use of glyphosate is restricted and no one should use glyphosate except pest control operators (PPOs).

Planters say hiring a professional to spray the herbicide would be prohibitively expensive in large, remote planting areas.

According to Jeffry Rebello, President of the United Planters Association of South India (UPASI), the planters’ body will approach the Ministry of Commerce to request an exemption allowing the plantation sector to apply glyphosate through the PCO. Glyphosate is used to control weeds in tea plantations, coffee plantations and rubber plantations by soil application.

“Due to the rural location and the size of the plantations, we had written to the ministry that it was impractical and very expensive for only the PCOs to come and spray the herbicide.” Additionally, there is no alternative to glyphosate for weed control in plantations. If weeds are not controlled, the efficiency of fertilizer use decreases. “The country is already suffering from a severe shortage of fertilizers,” said Shreedharan Chandran, vice president of UPASI and tea planter.

UPASI had previously pointed out to the Ministry of Agriculture that PCOs are available mainly in cities requiring private pest control activities for domestic purposes or fumigation of exported products.

He had also pointed out that the existing total number of licensed PCOs in India was far below the actual requirement to serve tea estates spread over 5.66 lakh hectares.

N Lakshmanan, a tea planter, said employing a PCO on a medium-sized plantation would be expensive and increase costs. Moreover, it can lead to unnecessary harassment.

Glyphosate has been approved for use on tea plantations in India for almost four decades. According to UPASI, tea gardens are mainly monitored by organized institutions. They have their own group of well-trained spray crews with decades of experience in applying weed/soil herbicides in typical tea ecosystems or applying insecticides-acaricides- fungicides on tea plants under the direct supervision of responsible qualified assistant garden managers.

First published: October 27, 2022, 09:55 IST

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