Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
IN ADDITION to damaging the environment, misuse of chemicals in agriculture could derail Jamaica's export markets, Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke warned on Tuesday.
"The chemicals we use to control pests must be acceptable to the importing country. It is also important that food for local consumption is safe," he told the launch of two new products, Engeo, a foliar insecticide, and Revus, a fungicide, which will be distributed by AgroGrace.
strike a balance
Clarke said, in meeting the challenges presented by the myriad of invasive pests, one must strike a balance between controlling the insects and adhering to international food-safety standards. For this reason, he charged farmers to obey the manufacturers' instructions about how much chemical to use and how to use it.
He cited the case of some farmers who upped the dose on the grounds that it was not strong enough, while others chose to 'stretch' the formulation, citing expense, to the extent that it loses potency and eventually becomes ineffective.
The minister, who is also a veteran cane farmer, warned against either extreme. "Adherence is of the utmost if we are to compete effectively in global trade and preserve the integrity of what we produce and export. Misuse will not only threaten our export markets, but will also have a deleterious effect on the environment," he shared.
Good agricultural practices, according to the minister, are important to positioning the agricultural sector for the pivotal role it must play in the country's economic development. He explained: "The contribution to employment, satisfying the demand for linkages in tourism and manufacturing and being the driving force in rural development, demands new approaches leading to the revitalisation of the sector."