Since the last few decades, India’s agri-food industry is going through an enormous transformation driven mainly by its impressive economic growth pushing the country’s food demand. The agricultural industry raised to the challenge and made significant progress in terms of becoming self-sufficient in food. As consumers evolve, food safety and quality, of late, have become a very critical issue and a topic for heated debate in several fora not only relating to the food that is exported but for domestic consumption also. The Government, through several initiatives, is actively working to address these issues with a long-term strategic perspective.
Grow Safe Food Campaign
In order to improve sustainable production of adequate amount of safe food, and also strengthen food and nutritional security for the billion-plus population, the Department of Agriculture and Co-cooperation, Government of India, recently launched the “Grow Safe Food” campaign. The nation-wide initiative is aimed at promoting awareness and undertaking capability-building efforts such as training for farmers particularly on food safety and quality issues. As multiple entities are involved in moving food from farm to consumers’ plates, it must be regarded a shared responsibility and every entity in the food chain must fulfill its responsibilities to ensure quality food is available to the consumers at affordable prices.
As an organization working for many decades in the country to promote food security, sustainability and stewardship in agriculture, CropLife India shares the concern and is collaborating in the Grow Safe Food initiative particularly, in providing hands-on training to farmers on good agricultural practices, IPM (integrated pest management), and Responsible Use of chemicals.
With a long history in leading many effective initiatives across the region and globally, CropLife Asia and CropLife International is supporting these efforts through funding and technical expertise.
For example, Haridasula Parvathi, a woman farmer from Edida Village of East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh shared her views that the learnings were very useful and timely.
“We are happy that our village is chosen for the project and the Master Trainers conduct meetings, demonstrations and trainings here regularly. They help us learn better about how to use pesticides responsibly and store them safely and also safety aspects while handling chemicals,” says Parvathi.
Several hundred farmers like her were given trainings on how to use pesticides responsibly and judiciously by the experienced master trainers of CropLife India. Through its pilot projects in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar, CropLife India aims to cover around 6,000 farm families over the next two years.
The participants also learn how to protect their health, store chemicals safely and also to differentiate genuine and spurious products while purchasing. These trainings include classroom teaching, practical field sessions and demonstrations to enhance the understanding of the audience on these important issues.
The exhaustive training curriculum includes 16 modules covering a wide range of topics such as IPM, role of beneficial insects including pollinators, judicious and responsible use of chemicals, secure storage of pesticides, impacts of counterfeit and illegal products, use of personal protective equipments such as masks and gloves, correct spraying techniques, maintaining sprayers and nozzles, and triple rinsing of used pesticide containers.
Additional audio-visual tools such as short animated videos that explain potential risks and dangers of using counterfeit and illegal crop protection products particularly from the farmers’ livelihood and food safety perspective. Available in seven vernacular languages (Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada), these videos are being used extensively in the trainings across the country.
To further enhance outreach and reinforce the key messages, hoardings and banners are used in the villages whilst other communication means such as posters and leaflets are also used to maximize reach to all the relevant stakeholders.
Recognizing the important role of agri-input retailers, they are also engaged in these kinds of capacity building activities since they are one of the important sources of information for farmers particularly on pest and disease management and use of pesticides. To create awareness on illegal and counterfeit products, CropLife India supported the drive to send out advisories to over 200,000 agrochemical retailers
With a long and credible track record of engaging in capacity building, creating awareness and promoting sustainable practices among various stakeholders including farmers, agri-input retailers, agricultural extension staff, policy makers, and non-government organizations, CropLife India is demonstrating its strong commitment to regard stewardship as the top priority of the plant science industry.
CropLife India continues to strive and focus on building synergistic partnerships with relevant food industry stakeholders to further cascade the knowledge in this regard. Further, it strongly advocates science-based and transparent policies that can effectively address the issue of food safety holistically in the country.
Sampathkumar is stewardship director for CropLife Asia. Reach him at email@example.com.