NATION

Organic Farming Way Forward: Tui Macuata

Paraquat, a toxic chemical that is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer), primarily for weed and grass control, was banned in the country from January 1, 2020.
16 Jan 2020 12:02
Organic Farming Way Forward: Tui Macuata
Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere

Organic farming is the way forward for the Northern Division, says Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere.

Commenting on the banning of paraquat in Fiji, Ratu Wiliame said the ban encouraged people to move towards organic farming and use organic products.

Paraquat, a toxic chemical that is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer), primarily for weed and grass control, was banned in the country from January 1, 2020.

“Farmers will just have to adopt the change that comes and go for organic planting,” Ratu Wiliame said.

“We in the North need to focus on organic farming as we have not been exposed more to industrial activities.”

Farmer

A yaqona farmer in Saqani, Cakaudrove, Uraia Daviqele, said he fully supports the ban on paraquat in the country.

He has seen the advantages and disadvantages of using the product and although it may not be affecting him directly, he believes others were somehow affected by the toxic chemical.

After the announcement last year by the Minister for Agriculture, Mahendra Reddy, Mr Daviqele stopped using paraquat and switched to herbicide Za as an alternative.

“I have noticed the difference after using Za,” he said.

“This chemical, once sprayed onto the yaqona plantation, will only exterminate the weed, leaving the yaqona plant with a fresher look.”

Yaqona farmer Uraia Daviqele. Photo: Laisa Lui

Yaqona farmer Uraia Daviqele. Photo: Laisa Lui

Seller

Hardware company owner and director for A. Hussein and Company Limited, Hazeem Hussein, said the ban did not affect the business because they were selling the alternatives.

He said paraquat was used by farmers who wanted a faster reaction, without any pre plan for their farms.

“The ban on paraquat is good and farmers don’t need to worry because there are alternatives available.”

paraquat copy

“In place of paraquat, there’s a new chemical, “glyphosate” that is available. And it is not poisonous. It has a faster action. For glyphosate there is no re-emergence for the next three months,” he said.

“Glyphosate is a better product.”

He also said paraquat was misused.

Farm Depo director Ashlyn Anisha Prakash said customers were still enquiring for paraquat.

“I tell them that it has been banned and the alternative products are “Royal glyphosate”, selling for $8.40 and “Glyphosate 360” for $10.50,” she said.

“I have received feedback from farmers saying that paraquat was not a good product for farmers.”

The ban on paraquat was due to the risks it posed on human health and the harmful effect on apiculture (bee keeping).

When he made the announcement on the ban last year, Mr Reddy said the environmental impact of paraquat included its extreme toxicity to plants, animals and aquatic species.

Mr Reddy said freshly sprayed plants proved poisonous to dogs, cattle and sheep, and have also been used to deliberately poison dogs.

Edited by Selita Bolanavanua

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