Opting for safe farming

Publish: 9:50 PM, December 5, 2021 | Update: 9:50:PM, December 5, 2021

Insecticides are generally disapproved in many countries considering their health hazarding properties. The same are still sold in Bangladesh but reservations exist about their application and lately the official policy seems to be in favour of naturally protective ways of farming without insecticides but its enforcement remains weak.

If insecticides long past the safety period for their use, are extensively used , then one shudders to think of the human health risks from crops grown with such insecticides and also the greater toxicity to be caused to soil where the same are applied. But the detection of such misuse of date-barred insecticides have been reported time and again.

Not only insecticides, the country appears to have also become a carefree ground for marketing spurious and sub standard fertilizers. Last year, a big consignment of such fertilisers were seized by the law enforcers. In that case also, confession came from the owners of the seized fertilisers that they have been indulging in such trading for a long time. Frequently, one comes across news of the farmers getting duped and buying sub standardfertlisers which can have degrading effects on the soil.

Farmers in Bangladesh have been the targets of such abuses and dangerous practices for a long time. They are forced to buy poor quality, soil degrading and environmentally risky products at high prices. Not only targeted productivity can be a casualty of applying the sub standards inputs, these inputs are also gradually causing otherwise fertile lands to lose their fertility while dangerous toxins are entering the human bodies from consumption of crops raised with such risky substances.

Farming is still the mainstay of sorts for the national economy notwithstanding its diversification . Productivity going down in the farming sector and for the country to lose one of its traditionally valued biggest assets –the fertility of its cultivable lands– must be regarded as a very great loss that calls for taking of consistent countrywide prevention steps against such risks through very stern law enforcement measures.

For achieving the well-being of the greatest number of people in the country, policies must be effectively implemented for the farmers to get the agro-inputs they need in adequate quantities at fair prices. No less important would be their getting such inputs which can be accepted as having unquestionable good quality.

But even proper quality chemical fertilizers through repeated use, overuse and without rotating the production of crops, can gradually destroy soil fertility. The way chemical fertilizers are, thus, progressively destroying soil fertility in Bangladesh should be worrying. There is a need for organic nutrients to be present in soil by some five per cent for maintaining its fertility. But such nutrients have declined to only one percent from over use of chemical fertilizers in Bangladesh in some areas, according to expert studies.

It is imperative that the government’s department of agricultural extension that trains farmers in safe farming practices should engage in extensive countrywide activities to encourage organic fertlisers and discourage the use of chemical and low quality fertilisers.

Law enforcement bodies will have to be more active to frustrate attempts to smuggle in sub standard chemical fertilisers. Farmers should be encouraged to practise rotation of crops, organic farming without pesticides or natural ways of pest control. Traditional manuring of the land with decomposed biomass to produce high yields used to be considered as safe practice. The traditional practices should be encouraged and fully revived. Organic fertilisers are being produced by some NGOs and small entrepreneurs. The use of such fertilisers on a large scale and vigorously need to be promoted.