Shopian: The J&K government has put a ban on horticulture mineral oils (HMOs) unless the producer company has licence from the Central Board of Insecticides, which regulates the chemical content in HMOs. The ban has made fruit growers in Kashmir apprehensive about a monopoly being created in the market, as very few companies have the said licence.
Orchardists while welcoming the government’s move is a good step towards quality control of pesticides, but when only a few number of companies have such licence, a situation of monopoly and shortage of supply in the coming spring is possible.
Fruit growers in Kashmir every year together spend hundreds of crores of rupees on HMO spray, which is applied for a week or two before the green tip appears in fruit trees. This insecticide is primarily sprayed to keep the lethal ‘San Jose Scale’ disease at bay, but it also helps to protect trees from other diseases as well.
Muhammad Ashraf Wani, former president of the mega fruit mandi at Aglar Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that the ban is a good move and quality control is of prime importance to the fruit industry, but a monopoly of particular companies should not be created.
“The HMO spray season is near and oil companies have already built up stock as per the requirement in Kashmir. If all these companies do not get the licence on time, it may result in shortage of supply, rise in rates, black marketing and monopoly,” Wani said, appealing to companies to get the licence so that growers in Kashmir wouldn’t face any inconvenience in the coming season.
A senior official at the horticulture department told Kashmir Reader that panic is unnecessarily being created among growers that there will be shortage of supply in spring, and it is also being said that people may come out on roads against this move.
“But when the move is pro-farmer, why would they protest? The government has taken this move to ensure the quality of HMOs so that they do no damage to the crop or trees in future,” the official said.
Director of Horticulture in Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Kashmir Reader that the department is working on a plan so that every company obtains the licence. “I don’t say any particular company is selling sub-standard product, but what if there are one or two? If companies are sure of their product, they surely will obtain the licence,” Bhat said.