Media Release: 12 March 2015

“Pesticide traces found in rivers” (Star 7 March 2015)

We, the Malaysian CropLife & Public Health Association (MCPA), refer to the recent article captioned above published in the Star on 7 March 2015 regarding traces of illegal pesticides found in the rivers in Cameron Highlands.

The use of illegal pesticides by farmers constitutes a big challenge not only to the Government regulatory agencies but also to the plant science and public health industries which MCPA represent.

In 2010 MCPA, working closely with the Department of Agriculture, launched the “Combat Illegal Pesticides Campaign” which is on-going. Illegal pesticides are pesticides not approved and registered by the Pesticides Board, Department of Agriculture.

Illegal pesticides include fakes (active ingredient content unknown – can be a banned pesticide), adulterated pesticides, counterfeit pesticides (designed to cheat farmers outright) and etc.

The “Combat Illegal Pesticides Campaign” revealed the many reasons why farmers use illegal pesticides. The main reason is that most farmers are just unaware that all pesticides must be registered with the Pesticides Board. Unregistered pesticides (e.g. banned pesticides) are illegal pesticides.

Recognizing this fact, the Department of Agriculture in 2011, in collaboration with MCPA, initiated the multi-year “Good Agricultural Practices Demonstration Project” in Cameron Highlands. This project took into consideration that the majority of the farmers in Cameron Highlands are Chinese language educated. As such all the GAP training seminars and GAP advisories were conducted and written in Mandarin (For non-Chinese farmers the seminars and GAP advisories were in BM).

The GAP Project advises farmers to stop using illegal pesticides, adopt the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) approach in pest and disease management – using pesticides as a last resort. Pesticides are to be applied strictly according to label instructions (use the approved pesticide, apply the recommended dose, apply at the correct time, take safety precautions like wearing PPE, and etc). This is important to protect the farmer (and his workers), the crop and the environment.

Farmers (and pesticides dealers) are informed of the legal penalties (imprisonment and fines) that may be imposed by the authorities if they violate the many laws and regulations concerning the use of pesticides.

The GAP Project is strongly supported by many stakeholders including the Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers Association and the Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (REACH). REACH played an important part in helping farmers disposed of triple rinsed empty pesticide containers. In fact the Recycling of Used HDPE Empty Pesticide Containers Program launched in 2003 by the Department of Agriculture is an unpublicized success story. This recycling program is among the most successful and sustainable in the Asia Pacific region.

The 2014 report on the GAP Project, augmented with impromptu farm visits by the authorities, showed that all the 125 farmers of the GAP Project had ceased using illegal pesticides. A small battle is won but the larger war to combat illegal pesticides is still on. To make progress support from farmers to relevant stakeholders is needed.

 

Yours sincerely,

Mr Tan Mong Yang

Chairman

44th Executive Council, Malaysian CropLife & Public Health Association