Alarming pesticide residue levels detected in vegetables, fruits


The pesticide residue levels in cardamom and curry leaves sold in the state are found to be at an alarming rate. Presence of pesticides that are banned in the state was also found in a study conducted by Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), Vellayani.

Tests on the samples collected from various markets in the state showed that the pesticide levels in these spices cross the maximum residue levels(MRL), the permissible amount of pesticide residues in food materials.

Five to six types of pesticide residues were found in four out of the six cardamom samples tested. The intoxicated cardamoms are found to be coming mainly from Puducherry. A number of pesticides that are banned in Kerala is still used by farmers in other states. This is the reason behind the increased amount of pesticide residue levels in vegetables and spices coming from other states.

“In the analysis, pesticide residues were found in vegetables including bitter gourd, green chilli, capsicum and cucumber and fruits mainly grapes and apples in minor amounts. Alarming levels of pesticide residues were found in a sample of China apple collected from the Palakkad market,”  said Nazeema Beevi of College of Agriculture, Vellayani.

The study was conducted as part of the regular monitoring programme by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, to find pesticide residues in vegetables, fruits, cereals and spices. Ten varieties of vegetables, six types of fruits, five varieties each of rice and wheat and six varieties of spices were tested under the programme.

Samples of vegetables and fruits were collected from markets and shops in Kottayam, Palakkad and Ernakulam districts. Milk samples were gathered from Thiruvananthapuram district and cereals and spices from Kottayam district. These samples were tested in the nationally-accredited Pesticide Residue Research and Analytical Laboratory of the College of Agriculture, Vellayani.

The monthly monitoring programme is conducted in selected centres in every state as part of the All-India Network Project on Pesticide Residues. This years programme was started in May last. An annual report will be prepared by IARI on the basis of these studies.