news Monday, January 05, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | November 18, 2014 | 7.08 pm IST With increasing reports of pesticide-laden vegetables and fruits entering the Kerala markets from neighbouring states, a new authority under the Food Safety Commissioner would be set up to ensure that safety standards are met, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Tuesday. Chandy said this while addressing a high level meeting of ministers and officials after several complaints were lodged concerning Kerala receiving pesticide-laden vegetables and fruits from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. "Strict prosecution measures would be taken against those who indulge in bringing in such types of vegetables and fruits. A new authority with members from various departments would be formed to monitor this," said Chandy. Every day close to 400 truck-loads of vegetables and fruits reach Kerala from the three neighbouring states. "It's a common practice being followed by the producers from our neighbouring states to apply pesticides to increase the shelf life of vegetables that are sent to Kerala markets," said Lal Kalpakavadi, chairman of the state-owned Horticorp, the major procurement agency of vegetables in the state, to IANS. "Scientific studies have also proved that this deadly practice is one of the major causes of the increasing incidence of cancer in our state," said Kalpakavadi adding that Kerala produces less than 40 per cent of its needs. With the rise in complaints of this nature, leading political parties such as the Congress and the CPI-M have decided to popularise and actively campaign for the setting up of kitchen gardens in every Kerala household. "We are holding a three-day event later this month in Thiruvananthapuram and at Alappuzha to spread the message and importance of taking up agriculture activities, especially to produce vegetables for our needs. Cancer incidence in our state has gone up and through this we expect to reduce this health hazard," said CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. State Congress president V.M. Sudheeran is also on a state-wide yatra to spread the message of organic farming. IANS

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