EghtesadOnline: Regulations permitting the amount and duration of pesticide use were ratified more than 50 years ago in Iran, yet it is still not being implemented, according to a deputy head of the Agriculture Commission of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
“In those regulations, responsible officials and organizations have been named and strict instructions have been set for pesticide and insecticide use. Unfortunately, it has been neglected,” Ali Taqavifar was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The problem of high levels of pesticide residue, he added, is not confined to Iran, but a standard limit has been set in other countries. There is nothing to worry about, when the limits are observed.
“The problem is that in our country, the standard limits ratified in the fiscal 1969-70 are not abided and the bodies in charge have failed to discharge their responsibility for years,” he said.
“Part of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Agriculture Ministry that has to supervise agro production and pesticide import, distribution and use. Moreover, governors general, governors and district governors have been named as officials obliged to oversee the cultivation of agricultural products. The Health Ministry has also been mandated to inspect these products in distribution centers, warehouses, sales outlets and grocery stores. If any of these bodies realize that a product is unhealthy, or of poor quality, they are directed by the regulation to destroy it.”
Taqavifar added that it’s a matter of shame that all of the above, which pertain to people’s health, have been overlooked.
“The government has to educate farmers on how to use pesticides and insecticides. Farmers must learn how not to go overboard and be aware of other technical matters in this respect and know, for example, not to apply a pesticide used for one crop for another product,” he said.
“Another problem we face here is lack of accurate data on the import, use and lab results related to pesticides. This is the main reason for contradictory comments made by officials and businessmen when a problem arises.”
Taqavifar’s comments come weeks after consignments of exported Iranian agriculture goods were returned from their target countries.
In early October, Russia returned Iran’s bell pepper export consignments and days later, India refused to accept Iran’s kiwi production standards.
Speaking on the issue, Mehdi Hosseini Yazdi, the head of Pesticide and Fertilizer Importers Union, told ILNA that the faulty proceedings of responsible authorities have caused countless losses for Iran’s exports, adding that in recent years, consignments of raisins, watermelons, potatoes and saffron have also been returned from their export destinations, all due to the excessive pesticide residues found in them.
Over 14K Tons of Agrifood Shipments Worth $9m Sent Back
A total of 14,096 tons of Iran’s exported agrifood consignments worth $9.19 million were sent back by nine of Iran’s export destinations during March 21-Nov. 21 due to failure to meet standards, according to the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“Russia returned 11,132 tons of Iranian agrifood products worth $3.3 million during the period,” Rouhollah Latifi was also quoted as saying by Ta’adol.
Russia recently sent back 37 trucks loaded with Iranian bell pepper from the Dagestan border crossing.
During the eight months, consignments of palm trees, potatoes and kiwis have been returned by destination countries.
Other countries that sent back similar consignments, the IRICA official added, were the UAE (688 tons $2.45 million), Turkmenistan (501 tons worth $1.29 million), Turkey (784 tons worth $998,425), Afghanistan (715 tons worth $478,699), Iraq (147 tons worth $352,448), Spain (64 tons worth $196,119), Belarus (35 tons worth $85,423) and Azerbaijan (26 tons worth $30,601).
Latifi noted that given the figures pertaining to retuned export goods over the eight months, Iranian exporters will face roadblocks in international markets, if domestic export policies are not rectified to better meet global standards.
Pesticide Consumption, Imports
Iran’s annual pesticide consumption currently stands at 30,000-35,000 tons on average, the head of Iran’s Plant Protection Organization says.
“Some 25% of this sum are imported in the form of ready-to-use pesticides and the remaining 75% active ingredients are imported to be processed and combined into final products inside the country,” Kaykhosro Changalavaei was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The official said the government is planning to reduce pesticide imports.
“At present, Iran’s average pesticide use on each hectare amounts to 2.2 kilograms, while the global average stands at 2.8 kilograms per hectare. On average, around 0.35 grams of pesticides are used in the country for the production of one kilogram of agricultural goods, while the global average stands at 0.65 grams per kilo.”
Director general of the Environment and Food Department of the Agriculture Ministry said pesticide use in Iran has been experiencing a downward trend every year.
“This is because biological methods used to fight pests are becoming more and more popular, and the Agriculture Ministry has been carrying out programs to instruct farmers and orchard owners on the correct use of pesticides,” Saeed Sa’adat was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
Yazdi said in January that China, India, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Germany and Switzerland are the main exporters of pesticide to Iran.
“Imports from Asian countries are carried out directly to Iran while purchases made from European countries are first transited to Turkey and then exported to Iran via Turkish companies,” he added.
Yet, Taqavifar is of another opinion and says that he cannot stress enough the urgency to implement strict supervision over pesticide use since crossing the redlines can be highly detrimental for the Iranian population’s health and can also have very negative effects on the country’s exports.
“We at TCCIM have held several meetings with state officials throughout the years, explicating how damaging it can be to not implement the ratified regulations. What we hear every time is that the government is not prepared and the required infrastructure is not available. Why is it so that after decades, officials are still not ready to implement a regulation concerning such a critical issue,” he said.