Unaware of health hazards, a worker spraying pesticides on mangoes at an orchard in Kansat upazila of Chapainawabganj.Photo: Anisur Rahman
Most mango growers in Chapainawabganj and Rajshahi districts are using pesticides and other chemicals at least 20 times for 'protection and better yield' against experts' suggestion for three times safe use.
Mindless use of the toxic chemicals in the country's mango zone is posing serious threat to public health as well as to environment and wildlife, thanks to the authorities' lax monitoring and lack of awareness campaign.
“We suggest using pesticides only three times after flowering, when fruits take the size of grams and then at its marble-size,” Mohammad Mofazzal Hossain, horticulturist of Kalyanpur Horticulture Centre in Chapainwabganj, said.
If pesticides are applied on fruits, it must not be consumed within 15 days, he said.
During visits to Chapainwabganj, this correspondent saw rampant spraying of pesticides on mango trees.
Several growers said they spray pesticides, fungicides and 'vitamins' over 20 times for protection and making the fruits look colourful.
More chemicals are used when pest attacks are frequent.
Different local brands like Noin, Carbendazime, Aimcozim, Cartap Hydrochloride and even Overmethrin containing Cypermethrin were seen in use.
The highly toxic items, also used as ant and cockroach killers, adds to groundwater contamination.
“We spray these first before flowering for washing the trees, again when fruit appears and then once in every week till harvest,” said Shahidul Islam of Sankarmaria in Kansat.
“As per suggestion from pesticide traders, we spray even the day before plucking fruits for marketing,” he said.
Mango traders again use chemicals before selling.
Sprayers seldom take any protective measures while handling the poisons.
Liton and Milon, who were seen spraying chemicals at a mango orchard in Sankarmaria with bare hands and legs, said they sometimes feel irritations on skin and eyes.
Contacted, Jamir Uddin, Senior Scientific officer of Regional Horticulture and Research Station, said, “Traders lure growers to overuse pesticides by providing them on credit and it overpowers our limited outreach efforts.”
Dr M Rezaul Karim, a biochemistry teacher of Rajshahi University, said eating chemically treated foods can lead to deadly diseases like cancer, hypertension and birth defects.