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Indonesian farmers use an alarming amount of pesticides — including some with illegal toxic chemicals — on their crops, the People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty (KRKP) said on Thursday.
The NGO cited a 2011 survey of 306 farmers in Central Java that found that farmers used pesticides an average of 5.7 times per growing season.
“That is a very high use for farms,” KRKP official Said Abdullah said in Jakarta on Thursday.
Pesticides are big business in Indonesia. The local market reaches about Rp 6 trillion ($654 million) a year, Said said. That market includes 350 brands of fungicides, 600 brands of herbicides and 800 brands of insecticides registered with the Indonesian authorities, according to Ministry of Agriculture’s Pesticide Commission numbers.
And these figures don't even include products that enter the country illegally, Said said.
“Between 10 and 12 percent of pesticides circulating [in Indonesia] are illegal,” he said.
Many of these chemicals contain harmful substances like organochlorine and organophosphate, Said said.
The one chemical, organophosphate, is considered hazardous, even in low doses, and its use is highly-regulated, or banned outright, in 23 counties. Organochlorine was present in the pesticide DDT, a chemical that caused massive ecological damage in the United States before its use was banned in the 1960s.
He called on farmers to adopt more environmentally-conscious and sustainable farming methods.