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`Cut excise duty on pesticides to nil'
January, 12th 2007

The Agrochemicals Policy Group (APG) has urged the Union Government for zero excise duty on pesticides, besides reducing various other taxes. These measures will help make pesticides affordable to the farmers.

This, in turn, will lead to increased use of pesticides to protect the crops, said Mr S. Kumarasamy, Chairman of APG.

The APG is an advocacy group formed by over 200 pesticides manufacturers belonging to Crop Care Federation of India, Crop Life India and Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulations Association of India.

The APG Chairman has called for doubling the area under crop protection in the next two years in order to increase productivity and farm income.

"Farm income will go up by Rs 20,000 crore if we could achieve this." Stating that the total pesticides requirement of the country was put at Rs 16,000 crore, he said the current usage was very low at Rs 4,000 crore. "Only one-fourth of the 1,400 lakh hectares of cropped area in the country is under crop protection (usage of pesticides). Lack of awareness and weak extension system are responsible for the low usage of pesticides," he said.

Tax sops

The APAG has recently submitted a pre-Budget wish list to the Union Ministry of Finance.

It also drew attention to various taxes and duties that, in fact, had made pesticides costlier. "We need to make them affordable to the farmers. Over 36 per cent of the maximum retail price comprises indirect taxes that include excise, VAT, turnover tax, surcharge and cess," he said.

Mr Kumarasamy also wanted the Government to extend the tax sops the pharmaceuticals industry enjoys with regard to fringe benefit tax and R&D expenditure to agrochemicals sector.

Awareness needed

Asked about the apprehensions on the extensive use of pesticides, he said these fears were not based on facts. "We have to have a robust extension mechanism to tell the farmers on the proper use of pesticides. They (farmers) are supposed to use the right kind of pesticides with correct dosage at the right time," he said.

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