Growing population, rising incomes, and changes in dietary habits are leading to a great demand for fruits, vegetables, and food grains in India. While the demand is increasing, the net cultivable land has remained stagnant at approximately 14 crore hectares over the last five decades. Despite this, India has been able to produce 28.5 crore metrics tonnes of food grains, and 31.4 crore metric tonnes of fruits and vegetables in the past year. This improvement in crop productivity has been possible with the help of agricultural inputs such as machines and agrochemicals. Agrochemicals are comprised of fertilizers, plant-protecting chemicals and pesticides, and plant growth hormones.
Use of agrochemicals in India
India is the fourth-largest producer of agrochemicals in the world. The Indian agrochemical industry is currently valued at around ₹42,000 crores and is expected to grow over time. The share of herbicides was low when labor for manually removing weeds was available at cheaper rates. However, its use has increased lately due to rising labor costs. Also, the increasing domestic and global demand for fruits and vegetables has accelerated the adoption of fungicides in India. Farmers of our country are even adopting higher-priced agrochemicals for growing fruits such as grapes and pomegranate while meeting the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) requirements for the export market. MRL is the maximum amount of pesticides that are allowed to remain on food products and will not be a concern to human health.
Are agrochemicals a bane or a boon?
It has been estimated that 15% to 25% of crop harvest is lost due to infestation by insects, weeds, and diseases. These losses can potentially be avoided by the use of agrochemical inputs. While the role of agrochemicals in minimizing crop losses and increasing the returns for farmers is widely accepted, concerns have been raised regarding their non-judicious usage. The excessive usage of these chemicals can impact soil health and hence the produce.
Lately, there has been a rising number of cases regarding the breach of MRL in crop production. This has also affected the exports of products such as rice, fruits, and vegetables to countries in Europe, the Middle East, and USA.
Typically, there are millions of microbes even in a teaspoon of healthy soil. However, it has been highlighted in several studies that agrochemicals can affect the biological functioning of soil microbes, potentially degrading their fertility. It is also stated that they can cause hazards to the soil environment and human health as their derivatives remain in the soil system for a considerable time.
Considering the impact of agrochemicals on soil health, efforts need to be taken to ensure judicious use of agrochemicals by farmers. The government has been taking steps to assess the risks and issuing notifications to ban identified pesticides. 18 pesticides have been banned so far citing the harmful effects they could cause on humans and animals. On 23 March 2020, the Pesticides Management Bill (PMB) was introduced. The objective of this bill is to ensure the availability of safe and effective pesticides that have minimum impact on living beings.
If all the norms proposed by the Indian government are followed properly, agrochemicals can lead to a great amount of healthy crop production. However, for managing a large amount of produce in agricultural markets, agri-traders or commission agents will have to rely on an efficient accounting system. Here they would need a mandi accounting software like ChargeERP.
ChargeERP accounting software has been designed keeping in mind the daily interactions of commission agents in agricultural mandis. It is a cloud-based accounting software introduced with the core aim of reducing the agent’s workload. ChargeERP is the easiest online accounting software available in India. One of the many benefits of this platform is that it can be accessed from anywhere and from multiple devices. It provides data security with end-to-end encryption. Plus, it doesn’t require any kind of technical or accounting expertise.