Even as the government has banned the use of fruit growth regulator chemical Ethephon in Kashmir, its sale and supply, according to sources, are going on unabated with enforcement authorities “failing” to act against the violators.
The fruit ripening chemical was banned last year by the state government following reports of its ill-effects on both the fruit as well as the human beings.
Ethephon is an organophosphate chemical. It is a plant growth regulator that is used to speed up the process of fruit ripening, abscission, and flower induction.
A senior horticulture department official admitted that in absence of monitoring by the horticulture and the agriculture departments, which had earlier banned the growth enhancer chemical, Ethephon is now being sold with ease.
In May 2017, secretary horticulture department issued a ban order in view of wide range of harmful effects of Ethephon on fruit plants/human health. The horticulture department had requested the SKUAST-K to examine the issue and advice on its effects.
A detailed report received from SKUAST-K reveals that by use of such ripening agent, the quality of the crop gets deteriorated, as such the fruits cannot be stored for longer periods. The mostly used compound Ethephon, if used continuously year after year, may render the tree unproductive and also reduce the economic life of the plant. Ethylene treated fruits consumed immediately after the application results in dehydration due to its diarrheal properties. Therefore, Ethephon treated fruits are not recommended for consumption immediately after its application,” the order said.
It said the report of SKUAST-K clearly indicates the hazardous effects of use of Ethylene (Ethephon) especially on the plant heath, fruit quality and shelf life, besides the harmful effects on human health.
Director, law enforcement, agriculture production department also reported that the pesticide (Ethephon) is used as plant growth regulator and for accelerating the process of ripening in the fruits and vegetables.
“The pesticide is mostly being used for ripening of apple. It is not even recommended for use on apple by the Registering Authority. The said pesticide adversely affects the health of plant/quality of fruit/shelf life and also has harmful effects on the human health; and whereas, the Director, Law Enforcement has also recommended that the sale of the said pesticide (Ethephon 39% SL and 10% paste) may be restricted in apple growing areas, the order said.
“Whereas, Ethephon is registered as pesticide with Central Insecticides Board (CIB), GOI, and has two formulations i.e. Ethephon 39% SL and Ethephon 10% paste.
As per the major uses of pesticides, registered under the Insecticides Act, 1968, its use has been restricted to certain fruits and is not recommended for apple,” it said adding that in view of these recommendations, sanction “is accorded to the imposition of restrictions on the sale of Ethephon 39% SL and 10% paste and ban on its use on apple crop in the J&K State, reads the order.
However after failing to act against its sale and supply in the market, the agriculture department has issued advisory to orchard owners advising them to stop using Ethephon.
After failing to curb sale of banned pesticides, the agriculture department has issued advisory urging orchard owners to stop using banned fruit-ripening chemical Ethephon.
It has been reported that illegal trade of Ethephon is being carried out for ripening of apple crop by some unscrupulous elements in the Valley. As per the government order no. 75 Horticulture of 2017, a complete ban has been imposed on the sale of Ethephon 39% SL and 10% paste for its use on apple crop in the JK state,” reads the advisory issued by agriculture department.
As such advisory is issued to all the orchardists for not using the Ethephon for ripening of fruits. Further all enforcement functionaries are instructed to launch a special drive in their areas of jurisdiction and taken action against the persons involved in this illegal trade as per the insecticide Act 1968 and rules made there under.