Stringent Monitoring of Pesticide Use in Farming

Alborz, West Azarbaijan, and Tehran reportedly have the largest areas of farmlands irrigated with raw sewage.Alborz, West Azarbaijan, and Tehran reportedly have the largest areas of farmlands irrigated with raw sewage.

Stricter controls have been imposed on the use of pesticides and wastewater in irrigation in the past two years by the Health Ministry’s Environment Health and Safety Office.

Unmethodical use of pesticides by farmers has posed serious risks to public health and become a major issue in the agriculture sector.

“For instance, pesticide for cotton crops was being used for cucumber cultivation, which is absorbed in the vegetable in excessive amount,” said Khosro Sadeq Niyyat, head of the office, at a meeting between officials of the health and agriculture ministries.  

In this regard, over 300,000 out of four million farmers were trained on the correct use of pesticides over the past two years.  However, “the conditions are not yet favorable,” Sadeq Niyyat was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Irrigation with raw sewage was another major issue but has been addressed through strict measures to control the practice.

“The area of farmlands irrigated with untreated wastewater declined from 3,400 hectares in 2012 to 2,400 hectares in 2015,” he noted. In 2015, samples of wastewater used for farming was tested in 300 cases, double the figure in 2012.  Alborz, West Azarbaijan, Tehran and Kermanshah have the largest areas of farmlands that are irrigated with raw sewage.

Water scarcity, the high cost of clean water and the “large size of crops” produced are cited as the main reasons for using wastewater by farmers.

“Education and alternative agricultural methods are the best solutions to this problem,” the Health Ministry official said.  Since the strict supervisory measures were introduced, the number of health notices given to farmers violating acceptable practices and norms has increased. In 2012, nearly 187 notices were filed but the figure rose to 660 in 2015.

Legal proceedings initiated for violations also went up from 119 cases in 2012 to 291 in 2015.

According to a relevant law passed in 2006, the Agriculture Ministry is obliged to take necessary measures in cooperation with the Energy Ministry to redress the problem of farmers using raw sewage to till their lands.

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