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ISTP
Interactive Socio-Technical Practicum

Identifying Knowledge of Pesticide and Determining Use on Fruits and Vegetables

Students: Kayleigh Shaughnessy, Blanca Zelaya-Rincon, Connor King, Sunil Kumar, Bhuvnesh Meena.
Mentors: Dr. Ramna Thakur, Dr. P.C. Ravikumar

This project reached stakeholders knowledge about pesticides in Himachal Pradesh, as well as pesticide use on farms in the region. We documented perceptions of farmers, government officials, and vendors, investigated relevant policies, documented application practices, and applied a method to test for chemicals in market produce. Our findings indicated the presence of pesticides on sampled fruit and vegetables, many of which have been banned in other countries. Moreover, farmers were not always aware of dangers and regulations.

Project Outcomes

Based our data, we made recommendations to the Central Government of India as well as to local consumers.

Recommendations

The Central Insecticides Board and Registration committee might address some of the misperceptions and misuse of pesticides that we found in Himachal Pradesh by making their official website more accessible and navigable. An easily navigable website that clearly outlines registered, banned, and restricted pesticides and includes maximum residue levels for these pesticides will help.
The Department of Agriculture might consider supplementing or replacing poorly attended training camps with informational booklets that can be updated annually with information about pesticides and their effects. These booklets would contain the same information as the online database as well as pictures of common pesticide containers to make it easier for farmers to identify potentially dangerous pesticides.
The Department of Agriculture might also benefit from altering their testing method used in their mobile testing vehicles. The procedure used was adapted from a study done in Switzerland and was very successful for detecting the presence of pesticides, easy to follow, and inexpensive. All necessary chemicals and equipment were readily available at the IIT – Mandi. If consumers do not wash their produce with soap and water before consumption, the nonpolar pesticides will not be removed because water is polar.

Please download executive summary, report and poster for more details.