Thursday, July 30, 2009

Monsoon Magic

The lethargy of monsoon to spread across the Indian Sub Continent in a full fledged manner is not going to instantly shift the vocation of millions engaged in farming. More than 60% of Indian agriculture is rainfed and the cropping pattern is attuned with the rainfall pattern in many agrarian regions. Irrigation as a crucial input in agriculture is overtly understated in practice and policy. Even in the recently proposed budget, a meager allocation of Rs. 1000 crores is been provided when there are more than 400 irrigation projects to be completed, which need a total investment of more than Rs. 200,000 crore.

As per the IMD reports, rains have been 50% below normal from June 1 to July 8 in the northwest, the region with agri prosperous states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh - a worrisome situation, considering the contribution of these states to the nation’s granary. The fears of a possible famine have been quelled by the Union Minister for Agriculture, Sharad Pawar by his assertion of the fact that enough foodgrains are there to meet demand for 13 months.

However, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) in its monthly forecast reported the production fall to the extent of 4.7%, and highly confronted the assurances putforth by Mr. Pawar. The CMIE report and as per general agronomic principles, the high rainfall deficit during June implies a sure fall in kharif crop production during 2009-10. GDP of agriculture and allied sectors has increased consistently since 2003-04 and this impressive performance can come to a halt by the current monsoon vagary in 2009-10 and it may decline upto two per cent as compared to 1.6 per cent increase in 2008-09. Whereas, livestock GDP is expected to increase by four per cent in 2009-10, as per the CMIE report.

The commodity prices have already soared up foreseeing the errant monsoon. The repercussions of the delay in monsoon may not be felt this year, but it is an undeniable fact that their shadow will be cast next year, with a lower yield and higher expectations.

Indian agriculture is overly dependent on the vagaries of nature - whether it is the speculated drought in the food baskets of India or the regular deluge in the states like Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Assam. With no or, little implementation of major watershed programmes and with river rejuvenation/ interlinking projects in limbo, the food production situation in India is facing a grim situation. To compound the matters, the effects of global warming and climate change are increasingly reflected in the yields which have already stagnated and will possibly follow a downward spiral if not addressed adequately.

As stated by MS Swaminathan, our ability to manage the monsoon will determine our ability to reduce hunger and ensure food, water, and livelihood security. So, it becomes all the more imperative to devise plans that will recharge not only the water resources but also the society at large. Instead of the usual short sighted approach for solving the problems at hand, a vision to attain water security is needed especially with the possibility of a rise in sea level and more frequent occurrence of coastal storms and cyclones as a result of the climate change. Preparing for climate change therefore should become an integral part of the planning process for sustainable food, water, and livelihood security.

This year provides an excellent opportunity for initiating a well-planned monsoon management strategy based on the best available scientific tools in rural India. Boosting investment exponentially and according sufficient incentives to the private sector to attract investment are some of these. Private partners can be involved in the development process, so that it would be more inclusive, efficient and substantial. The Weather forecasting system needs to be strengthened so, that daily or, at least regular weather advisories/ inventories can be sent for the dissemination and the necessary action by the farmers. But whatever be the status of preparedness, the Monsoon is all geared to affect the Indian agriculture and economy at whole.

Abid Hussain

SOYBEAN- The Miracle crop

Soybean, the miracle crop of India introduced very recently, had helped in stemming the foreign flow of exchequer, as well as become the lifeline of rainfed and other neglected tracts of the country. It outperformed other high value crops too, under intensive production with assured irrigation, nutrition and protection.

Soybean originally belonging to Manchurian region of China, is not a new crop to India. It was grown in India long before it was introduced to the USA in the early 1800s. Black soybean has been grown for ages in low Himalayan hills as well as in the foothills and some scattered pockets of central India.

India's unusually rapid development of soybean is highly area-specific i.e., Madhya Pradesh experienced a 38 fold increase in area during 80’s and a similar increase in production. Uttarakhand (erstwhile Uttar Pradesh’s Tarai belt) increased its area and production 8-10 times while Maharashtra's soybean crop had become insignificant by 1983. Major factor responsible for concentrated soybean development seems to be the development of irrigation systems to compensate for unfavourable climatic factors along with promotion of soybean as an intercrop with sorghum and cotton, and the assured market in these areas. Even though India's share is about one percent at present, development as well as the expansion of this crop in the country during the last 15 years is rated as one of the striking occurrences in the agricultural development process, which made India, 5th largest producer of Soybean.

Soy- Vantage

Soybean is a multi-purpose crop, as it is used for food, feed and fodder. Its short crop duration and fast growth habit makes it highly suitable as intercrop or, catch crop as it suppresses weeds. Except yellow mosaic and rust disease, it is tolerant to other disease problems and almost no/low pest incidence. The nutrients application is also too minimal, being an efficient nitrogen fixing leguminous crop. It does not require much water and other cultural activities/ management, so a big hit in the rainfed and dryland areas. The leaves are shelf shed, so no need for separating the pods and leaves, which decompose and add organic matter to the soil. Soybean has great nutritional significance, with over 40% protein and 20% oil, and has now been recognized as a potential supplementary source of edible oil and nutritious food. The protein of soybean is complete, because it supplies sufficient amounts of the kinds of amino acids required by the body for building and repair of tissues. Its food value in heart disease and diabetes is well known. Soybean is a rich source of edible oil containing no cholesterol and almost none of the saturated fats. Thus it constitute an ideal food for heart patients and those who wish to avoid heart disease. After all it’s an economic crop to go for, but with assured market and local preferences.

Madhya Pradesh- the Soy State

Soybean is grown in Madhya Pradesh during kharif and has spearheaded their economic growth. Various processed products like Soy milk, Soya meal, Nutri Nugget, Oil, cattle and poultry feed are available even in the rural areas. The research and educational back up is from AICRP- Soybean, now elevated as National Research Centre and JNKV, Jabalpur. As on today, about 70% of Soybean is produced by MP alone. Soybean farmer Mohan Singh of Ratlam, M.P. says, “Today, soybean marketing is not a problem, only our comprehension is for the right prices, which is highly fluctuating due to imbalanced international trade. Soybean, having less production problems, requiring less management and considerably lower cost of cultivation, make us the farmers in the region to go for the crop”. The major constraints in production include non-availability of adequate amount of quality seed, poor adoption of improved production technology and the risks of crop cultivation in rainfed conditions. Soybean seed is least storable and is vulnerable to mechanical damage. Use of quality seed with high germination is, hence, imperative.

The Roadblocks:

Despite its nutritional importance, Soybean has not been able to catch up in the domestic market and lure the Indian growers except few places in MP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Northern Karnataka, much due to severe neglect from the Government side. The major constraint to sustained development of soybean remains the low and declining yields. Consumer and farmer education and governmental support can help increase yields; increased industrial utilization of the crop can become more important. Narendra Kumar, an Agriculture Officer with Agriculture Dept. says, “Soybean is not getting the boost, due to faulty Govt. policies and imbalanced trade. India having more than 60% of area under rainfed and dryland can encash the opportunity by going with the crop, where nothing grows with the least inputs and cultural practices”. High yields are constrained by a complex interaction of genetic, physiologic and climatic factors. It can be proved as a panacea for perennial malnutrition problems that India and other developing nations are confronting at present. Available varieties are low yielding, thus urgently needed are high-yielding varieties to bridge the existing yield gap. Most of the Indian households tried to use soybean as dhal and failed, because it required much more time to cook and yet did not cook up well, like the other dhals. Also, some people did not like its beany flavor. As a result, soybean did not gain wide popularity in India. So, utilization has to be made familiar to suit the local tastebuds, which would automatically create the huge market for the crop.

International Trade

Soybean is a versatile food product and is mostly imported. The major players in international arena are US, Brazil, Argentina and China. The USA, Brazil and Argentina account for a combined 82% of global output; they are followed, at considerable distance, by China, India and Paraguay, which, together, account for another 13% of world production. China is the largest importer with import of over 45% of world soybean. Agronomic advances have led to dramatic growth in the supply and utilization of soybeans worldwide. Today, the share of soybean in global oilseed production averages around 55 %, and over the last ten years world soybean production has expanded at a rate of over 5 % per year on average. In the world’s three largest producing countries, the USA, Brazil and Argentina, about 70-90 % of soybean produced consists of GM varieties. On the consumption side, the advent of GM soybeans and other food crops has created considerable debate following consumer concerns about the safety of GM products. In India also, HT- Soybean release controversy is catching up, as the MNCs is in the race to cash in on the early gains. Dr. Bijendra Singh, a trade analyst admitted “As currently the international market is sluggish, but with the late and poor monsoon this season, the crop can vie for getting the attention with the higher prices.”

The Ways ahead:

The prospects of soybean expanding further into a major crop in India are good. The know-how accumulated on soybean farming in India is already considerable, and industry is becoming increasingly aware of the varied uses of soybean. It appears that the importance of soybean is increasing while the availability of pulses, the nation's cheapest source of protein, is decreasing. Marketing is still a major roadblock in its large scale expansion with the low share in local domestic market, irrespective of innumerable nutritional and economic gains. The first thing is the creation of domestic demand and market among the local consumer/ people, which can replace our whole dependency on the international trade, which is highly skewed. The consumers and public has to be educated, taught and the benefits of Soybean must be vehemently promoted. With the marketing problem out of the way, the next challenge is to develop improved, high yielding soybean varieties with good seed viability and resistance to yellow mosaic and rust. Furthermore, the soybean seeds of these varieties stored under ambient conditions quickly lose viability; when planted in the next season, their germination was found to be very poor. Therefore, breeding for resistance to yellow mosaic and rust as well as for increased seed longevity is the major challenge among soybean breeders in India. Seed viability during storage was observed to be related to seed size, .i.e. varieties with a 100, seed weight of more than 15 g lost viability quickly, whereas varieties with a 100-seed mass of 10 g or less showed little loss of viability even after a year. However, these small-seeded varieties had low yield and low oil content. On the other hand, varieties with a 100-seed mass of 12–15 g maintained good viability for 7–8 months, had good yield potential, and contained high levels of oil and protein. Therefore, seed mass became one of the selection criteria in the breeding program for improved seed viability.

The rapid increase of soybean cultivation raises a good possibility of meeting the edible oil shortage in India. The political will and financial support from the State and central governments were matched by the private-sector investment in soybean utilization and marketing in India. This brought about a rapid increase of soybean cultivation in all the potential niches, but as expected, the major expansion took place in Madhya Pradesh, which alone accounts for 81% of the area under soybean today. Consequently, India is currently cultivating about 6 million ha with an annual production of 6 million t, and it proudly occupies the 5th place in the world for soybean production. At last it can save huge losses, we incur on importing pulses and edible oils from Canada and Australia. So, an urgent policy intervention is needed to keep the magic run of Soybean.

Abid Hussain

Tuesday, July 21, 2009



INDIAN Retail industry, which is US$300 billion in 2006, is likely to reach 427 billion US dollars by 2010 and to 637 billion US dollars by 2015. Merely 3 per cent of retail in India is organized. Visible retail revolution is on in India. In a short span of two years, retailing has exploded on the Indian firmament as a humungous business opportunity. The rapid expansion of super markets in India started from mega cities of Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, the southern part of the county. Nevertheless, in recent years, new retail stores/supermarkets are being opened at a frenetic pace in different small cities and towns throughout the country. The country is quickly readying to face profound changes in the retail landscape. It is only the beginning and the best is yet to come.

In such a scenario food retailing cannot be far behind which account for nearly 60 per cent of the total and that too almost entirely in what is described as unorganized sector. This is where organized retail has perceived an opportunity. India’s food sector is set to expand exponentially in the coming years. Given the existing low per capita consumption, every increase in income will first translate into higher demand for food until the time basic food needs are satisfied. Increasing urbanization and growth of small towns throughout the country coupled with increased income level, diversified food habits, growth of working women outside home, willingness to pay or better quality and need for convenience drive demand for processed, ready to cook or ready to eat, convenience foods, packaged and preferably branded. In addition opening up of domestic markets for external trade as part of the ongoing economic and trade liberalization has allowed entry of processed foods from foreign destinations. Consumers are now demanding international shopping experience because of the pervasive effect of information communication technologies (ICTs).

The traditional model of farm plucked vegetables reaching the market and sold the same day by the petty traders had to slowly give way to sophisticated storage, handling and retailing of these commodities over few days by organized market chains. The initiatives by large corporate such as Bharti, Reliance ITC’s Business Division, Godrej, Aditya Birla Retail under Trinethra, Fabmall and more, Food World. PepsiCo, Tropicana and traditional grocery stores, such as, Nilgris, Apna Bazar, Subhiksha and Metro are also increasing their outlets by connecting to farmers directly. With appropriate contacting mechanisms stakeholders can also connect to processing industries and fast food chain such as McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Bominos and Narulas which continue to expand their operationsin India. These developments raise several fears and apprehensions among the stakeholders, policy makers, and civil society organizations as revealed by the recent protests against opening of the retail shops by the corporate sector.

Corporate know that the Indian agriculture sector is a potential goldmine that has not been tapped till now and farmers have a lot of reasons to be happy with the corporate entry into agriculture scenario. With plenty of money and manpower’s at their disposal these corporate Goliaths are attempting to give a new meaning to Indian agriculture- a positive and vibrant. These entrepreneurs are all set to change the fortunes of agriculture industry that has so long been considered a failure. Corporate are more capable of undertaking risks and can face financial losses than small and medium farmers. The government is supporting all these big players into the agriculture sector because of big growth potential which can make a positive impact on the lifestyle of the farmers. Many of these corporate are making a beeline to farmers’ doorstep for buying their produce, something, which the poor farmers’ has never experienced so far. All the times it was the farmers who had to take his produce to the market and search for marketing channels. Corporate entry into agriculture could find an answer that has been plaguing the farm sector for long- proper and affordable price to the farmers. Challenges arising out of fragmented landholdings, limited credit flows and uncertain market conditions would be addressed to a large extent. Importantly, the system will force stakeholders move towards quality related pricing something our country lacks. A strong demonstration effect could add fillip to farm sector modernization.

All these improvements are more than what the government has been able to offer to the agriculture sector. In fact the governmental cooperative movement which was started with the similar idea of procuring, transporting and retailing the produce has been a major disaster with red tape and political interferences clogging its functioning. By moving in and taking over the supply chain in agriculture, corporate India is also breaking the stronghold of middlemen and loan sharks who have been exploiting the farmers. But the litmus test is whether this new trend is relieving the present constraints that the farmers face in effectively linking with regional domestic and global markets.

How is private sector driving smallholders’ participation in retail food markets? The common perception that private sector will exploit smallholders is slowly changing with the successful demonstration of several corporations that are working with small holders to connect them with domestic and world market.

Retailing in India is subjected to a plethora of laws/regulations at the central, state and local/municipal levels. There is lack of specific legislation controlling distribution trade and there is no nodal ministry to control and guide the operation of this sector. This has resulted in delays owing to multiple clearance procedures. Single window clearance scheme should be set up. The food supply chain is highly fragmented and is dominated by a large numbers of intermediaries. Marketing of agricultural produce is governed by the state specific Agriculture Produce Market Committee Acts which until were quite restrictive in commercial transactions in agricultural commodities outside the state designated markets. Under the economic reform program, central government amended the APMC Act in 2003 allowing agribusiness marketing firms to source their raw material requirements directly from the farmers through contracts or other wise. However its implementation, which rests with state governments, has been slow acting as disincentive for agribusiness firms to invest.

As recommended by Dr M S Swaminathan, Chairman, National Commission for Farmers,the Special Agricultural Zones should be established to sustain and expand the retail boom from farm to market. SAZ should aim to bring about a Small Farm Management Revolution which can help to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the major farming systems of the country. Special incentive and support for conservation of farming, timely supply of credit, effective insurance system and above all post harvest infrastructure for value addition to primary produce, biomass utilization and producer oriented marketing must be given to farm families in the SAZ

Multi-stakeholder Contract Farming Regulatory Authority should be established to ensure mutually beneficial partnership between the growers and mega retail trade. Authority should ensure equitable social bargain in this sector and can at as a watchdog body.

Another potential option that can effectively integrate smallholders on the modern supply chain is to facilitate smallholders to form grass-root level associations/informal cooperatives owned and managed by farmers themselves, and/or producer companies- a hybrid between cooperative ad private limited company- owned y farers but managed by hired professionals empower them to effectively deal with big industrial players and reap the benefits of scale economies of marketing.

There is a land war involving small and marginal farmers possessing fertile agricultural land and those who wish to purchase for setting up SEZs. The answer to this question is not just to persuade small farmers to quit farming by selling their land, however attractive the prevailing price may be. Most of the small farmers after selling their lands will become just landless labourers after a year or two when the money gets exhausted. Therefore any Exit Policy for small farmers through land markets must be accompanied by an Entry Policy to provide them alternative and sustainable non-farm livelihoods- a real contribution of the retail sector. Failure to do will swell the numbers of landless labourers’ families with disastrous social consequences.

Another heated debate is on whether or not; Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retailing is desirable. FDI is not allowed in retailing. FDI in a single brand is permissible. It is also allowed only in franchising and in commission agent services. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board on a case by case basis approves the FDI proposal in the wholesale trade services. Many reputed foreign retailers with deep pockets and deeper market knowledge are waiting in the wings to enter the country. Restriction on FDI may constrain the growth of organized retailing. Restriction of FDI in food retailing is on account of the apprehension that entry of multinationals will displacement of workers in the unorganized retailing, which needs thorough examination. FDI in retailing will expedite the process of development of modern format India bring in technical know-how, reduce inefficiency in the supply chain, increase productivity, help achieve international quality standards and improve the quality of employment and services offered to the consumers.

Storage is the biggest challenge because the warehousing facilities in India are totally inadequate. Temperature control and inventory management are two issues that need focused attention. Transportation is another challenge. We need inexpensive, efficient and specific movement including appropriate material handling equipments, cold chains and refrigerated vans. Segmentation based on class of buyers, packaging and store display are areas that deserve attention. Public policy has an increasing role to play in effectively using retail agricultural markets to reduce poverty in rural areas. Public investments in rural roads connecting smallholders in remote hinterlands to market centres can extend the benefits of retail food boom beyond periurban areas. Infrastructure and cold storage development for storing, sorting and distributing fresh foods can bring together smallholders in the form of cooperatives and producers associations which will induce more private companies to deals with small and medium scale farmers.

Public private partnership can create further competition mange the retailers and reduce the welfare losses of the traditional players such as petty traders and street vendors of fresh produce markets. Traditional retailers and street vendors need to be encouraged to form cooperatives from the existing retailers associations. They should be given appropriate training to organize them selves and start retail stores which can effectively compete with the corporate sectors.

Retail boom will not collapse in the recent future provided those engaged in making huge profits through transnational or national super markets ensures livelihood security of millions of persons engaged in micro retailing. Small and marginal farmers should be assured of income and work security as a result of their partnership with those riding the retail boom. Small and marginal farmers should be assisted in improving their productivity and profitability through timely input supply and improved quality management.

Central and States governments have to create a level playing field for the growth of new market institutions. Effectively integrating farming community with the local, regional, national and global market is crucial for realizing the commercialization of Indian agriculture. Retailing of agriculture products will help to bring a transformation in the country’s moribund farm sector by attracting private investment to improve production, productivity and quality. Organized well, private participation in the small holder agriculture for producing, processing and marketing high value commodities can be win-win proposition for all stakeholders- growers, aggregators, processors, retailers and consumers- if it is played with social responsibility. However, it may be unreasonable expect food retail to address all the entrenched problems of Indian agriculture and produce marketing. Retailers are after all in business to derive return on investment and make profits. By its very nature, food retail is high-volume, low margin business.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Phorate Story of UP

Indian agro-chemical market is just 2 per cent of the total market with the usage of agro-chemicals being low in developing regions of Asia, South America and Africa, these markets remain promising growth potential for India. The current exports of pesticides from India amounts to Rs 1,500 crore and it can increase manifold.

Agrochemicals Policy Group (APG) estimated that spurious and substandard pesticides worth around Rs 1,200 crore are palmed off to unwary farmers every year. This results in a net loss to the farmers of crops worth about Rs 6,000 crore. APG is a pesticides industry body that aims to promote the safe use of plant protection chemicals.

A random sample of 18 manufacturer’s commercial phorate, an insecticide, available in the market was collected and analyzed for different location / dealers by CARD (Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development) in Uttar Pradesh. In a surprise, it was found that 13 out of 18 samples tested negatively and failed with the recommended active ingredient content and can be categorized as spurious and sub-standard agrochemicals. To illustrate the seriousness of the issue, majority of samples of phorate, tested 0.5 to 2.0 per cent for the supposed ingredient formulation of 10 per cent.

Over the past few years Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and other states have been attributed to the use of spurious pesticides that caused widespread crop losses and followed by farmer’s suicide. According to APG dossier, most spurious pesticide-making units are located in western Uttar Pradesh, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and western Maharashtra. Indira Market in Delhi is said to have become the leading centre for the sale and distribution of these fake pesticides. Spurious products are mostly sold in under-developed markets like eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and the north-east, though one can also easily get such products in developed markets like Nashik, Pune, Bangalore, Guntur and Warangal.

Spurious pesticide manufacturers usually imitate popular and expensive brands from multi-national and leading Indian manufacturers that have better acceptance among the farmers. Some counterfeit pesticides do not contain any active plant protection ingredient and largely comprise materials like talcum powder, chalk powder, any odd solvent or just kerosene. Others may contain some active ingredient but only a fraction of that mentioned on the label or recommended.

As most spurious pesticide manufacturing and sale operations are conducted without bills and invoices, the government loses excise revenue of around Rs 168 crore (at the rate of 14 per cent) every year. The state governments also lose VAT revenue (4 per cent) worth around Rs 48 crores, the APG estimates states.

APG attributes the thriving spurious pesticides market to inadequate legal and other preventive action by the authorities concerned against manufacturers and traders of fake and sub-normal pesticides. India’s pesticides industry is overseen by the Central Insecticides Board (CIB), a regulator created under the Insecticides Act, 1968. It is also responsible for the registration of agro-chemicals. The state agricultural departments are also involved in enforcing the Insecticides Act in terms of issuing manufacturing licences, environmental clearances and monitoring the distribution and quality of the products.

In the lines of pharmaceutical industry, the adoption and adherence to good manufacturing practices (GMP) should be made mandatory for pesticides manufacturers. There is also urgent need for revamping the state- level pesticide testing laboratories and equipped with modern technology to ensure better monitoring of the pesticides quality. Most of these laboratories lack qualified analytical chemists and proper analytical instruments and reagents at present. Their analysis reports are often questionable as a result. To make India a supplier of high-quality agrochemicals, all exporters of agro-chemicals must be brought under ISO certification, it said, adding that to avoid the lowering of export prices, the crowding of several manufacturers for the same molecule should be controlled

However, the overall Indian agricultural pesticides market is quite small by global standards. Although India accounts for around 17 per cent of the world’s total cultivated area, it accounts only for 3 per cent of global pesticide consumption. About 80 per cent of the country’s crop land, comprising largely rainfed area and small farms, is seldom treated with plant protection chemicals. The cost-benefit ratio of pesticide use is reckoned to be about 1:5.

The worse part is that the grower cannot make out the genuineness of a product till he uses it. By then it is too late. With the private market of pesticides growing steadily, there is a need for stringent regulatory measures.

There are apprehensions in the market that the Agriculture Department is keeping a tab only on the state manufacturers, while a number of dealers are bringing in spurious pesticides from Delhi and other places and selling these after mixing with genuine stocks.

The genesis of the problem lies in the huge profit margins of the companies that have everything to gain by selling "doctored" products to unsuspecting farmers. While a marginal decrease in the potency of the formulations may not affect the farmers, it means big bucks for the companies. Indian companies too try to elbow their way in by launching the same products as MNCs, but with a smaller price tag. Often, the first casualty is quality.

The cumbersome procedure in bringing the defaulting companies to book and The Insecticide Act, 1968, is a paper tiger. While the licences of the errant dealers are cancelled, they have the option to plead their case with the Joint Director, Agricultural Plant Protection.

The suspect companies are also issued show-cause notices and their quality-control heads are asked to explain the deficiencies in their products. However, the companies adopt "delaying tactics" by asking for a re-test from the Central Laboratory and in a majority of the cases, the samples pass. In case this laboratory fails a sample, it is up to the department to initiate court proceedings. Sources say that it is hard to recall an instance where a company or dealer may have been prosecuted for sub-standard or spurious products.

The government should amend the Insecticides Act and bring pesticides under the Consumer Rights Act so that farmers can get compensation in the case of financial loss due to sub-standard pesticides supplied by dealers/manufacturers.
The system introduced in the southern states under which random samples are taken from every consignment of pesticides entering the state. Special barriers have been set up for the purpose at the entry points. It is most important as spurious pesticides can actually cause harm to the plants as the pests become resistant and their population multiplies at a high rate.

Abid Hussain