23nd May 2020, New Delhi: The Government on 14th May 2020, released a draft order proposing to ban a list of 27 insecticides. The reason for the proposed ban in the draft order said that the molecules are a risk to human being and animals.
The draft order stated that the proposed ban will be taken into consideration after the expiry of a period of 45 days from the date on which the copies of the Gazette of India containing the order are made available to public.
The order also stated that any objections or suggestions received within this period of 45 days will be considered by the Central Government.
Mr. Pradip Dave – President PMFAI (Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India, represents India’s Pesticide Manufacturers, Formulators and Traders) elaborated on the draft order to help understand the impact of the proposed ban of 27 insecticides.
He mentioned “In 2013, Verma Committee had placed 66 products from generic pesticides under review. Out of these 66 products, 34 were shortlisted of which 9 were banned in 2019. Of the balance, data was collected by the Government of India on 27 products from manufacturers in an amicable way and hence the gazette which came out was a shock to the industry.”
“These generic products proposed to be banned have a market size of 40-50bn INR and are being used for the last 3-4 decades by the Indian farmers without any complaints unless misused. Indian manufacturers have been supplying these products worth 35bn INR to the domestic market and balance is exported”
Indian Industry and the proposed ban
Talking about the Indian industry and the proposed ban, he says “Indian Pesticide industry is worth over 400 bn INR of which domestic consumption is 180 bn INR, balance being exported from India. MNCs are unable to gain market share in the Indian market and hence the gazette is a likely a conspiracy by MNCs to bring readymade imported pesticide formulations in to the county.”
“Many MNC products are being held up because of the domestic industry’s suitable pricing and high quality. Price of replacement products will be 3-6X higher than existing Indian products. This will be an added burden on the Indian farmers. Many organophosphorus compounds cost Rs 500/ ltr which will be replaced with imports which are far more expensive.”
“Similar situation occurred in the past in which the industry opted for legal recourse. PMFAI (Represents India’s Pesticide Manufacturers, Formulators and Traders) will be making a presentation to the ministry and asking the court for relief.”
Proposed ban is only on manufacture & use in India while export can continue
Most local manufacturers who in future may be barred from manufacturing and selling in domestic market can hedge their risk through export registrations. A local manufacturer who has an export registrations (or subsequently can obtain one if they don’t have it) can continue exporting. However, they also require product registration in country of import. For example Endosulfan which is banned in India can be manufactured and exported on obtaining registration and licence from the government.
“Within 45 days of gazette, the industry has to make a representation which if ignored, they can opt for legal recourse. Last time when a representation was made, 9 molecules were banned out of a list of 34 molecules. Typically bans are enforced in a phased manner globally.”
Mr. Dave adds, “India is the largest manufacture of Mancozeb (500,000 MTPA) and Choloropyrifos. This proposed ban is not going to result in any incremental investment by MNCs in India.”
The timing of the gazette is precarious in nature given the uncertainty and preoccupation with the Covid-19 crisis in the country. Without any findings being disclosed to the industry, the proposed ban is both shocking and unfair. Further more it is contradictory to the spirit of “Atmanirbhar” and “Make in India” initiative which the government has been speaking about.