BANEPA, Aug 24: Local farmers in Panchkhal of Kavre district, infamous for excessive pesticide use, have vowed to free their villages of all harmful insecticides.
“We´re tired of waiting for the government to intervene,” says Rita Sigdel, a local farmer in Panchkhal. “We´ll now do away with pesticides.”
Although the government has been carrying out Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs in villages where pesticide use has been widespread since 1997, no such program has been carried out in Panchkhal. However, without the government´s IPM program, local farmers are now gradually turning to organic farming.
“Earlier, we had no knowledge of the impacts of pesticide use,” says Ram Krishna Dhakal, a farmer of Hokse VDC-3 in Panchkhal. “Today, we´re aware of the harmful effects of pesticide use. We´ll not use pesticides from now onward.”
Recently, Pragati Multipurpose Cooperative of Kavre has launched a campaign to control pesticide use in Panchkhal. The participants of the campaign, mostly farmers, have jointly signed a commitment to do away with pesticides.
Locals in Panchkhal have been involved in vegetable farming for almost 30 years now. In 1983, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) helped educate the locals about vegetable farming. Vegetable farming has raised the income of many farmers in Panchkhal since.
However, a project report published by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) a few years ago tarnished the image of Panchkhal. The report claimed that local farmers in Panchkhal excessively used pesticides to increase their yield.
Following the release of the ICIMOD report, consumers are wary of vegetables from Panchkhal. “The report, which was based on study conducted in certain areas, does not show the real picture,” says Subhadra Adhikari, a farmer of Panchkhal-6. “In some areas, farmers use pesticides, but not everywhere.”
“This is the right time for us to intervene as the locals themselves have become aware of the adverse impact of pesticide use,” says Madhusudan Paudel, an official at the District Agriculture Development Office, Kavre. “We can´t ask them not to use pesticides without first providing them alternatives.”
In recent years, vegetables like potato, pumpkin, carrot, chilli, cabbage, garlic and cauliflower, originally sold only in Kathmandu and some other nearby towns, are now being increasingly exported to China as well through the Tatopani border.