`Harm of Pesticides is up to the Knees, the Effect -up to the Neck’

`The Harm of Pesticides is up to the Knees, the Effect -up to the Neck’
Susanna Shahnazaryan

13:35, July 26, 2012

This is the opinion of Ashot Aslanyan, a farmer from Meghri. He also adds
that he is talking about those pesticides, which are effective and are not
of an unknown origin. He says that it is more than three decades that he is
engaged in fruit growing, and notes that year over year the effect of
pesticides necessary for use is decreasing, and often even after one or two
usages the result is not satisfactory.

In general, Ashot purchases all the necessary pesticides for the garden in

`I buy them from a specialized store for pesticides and drugs. However,
even here double standards are applied towards the clients. If they see
that you are keen in this field, you know many of the pesticides, at least
how they look like, they serve you differently. But I have heard many
people complain about the little effectiveness of the pesticides;
especially the insect-killer pesticides rarely serve the purpose. According
to Ashot’s information, its roughly the 2-5% of the 1300 rural households
of Meghri that has the possibility to buy pesticides from specialized
stores, the other part buys them from the hands of the merchants coming
from Yerevan, who make good money in autumn and spring, when the biggest
quantity of pesticides is sold. `It’s not that profitable as it might seem,
because everyone buys 100-200 grams of pesticides, while the majority –
borrows them. I lend them, and then run after them several months to return
my one-two thousand drams,’ says one of the merchants, who sells the
pesticide (detsis) in simple medical syringes. `I suck out little by little
from the bottle in those quantities that they want,’ explains the plant-
doctor and adds that he also gives some advice as to how to make the

*Gevorg Margaryan *consultant at the Syunik Agricultural Support Centre
CSJS under the RA Agriculture Ministry thinks that, it may indeed often
happen that the quality and safety of the sold pesticides do not comply
with the approved standards and give floor for serious doubts.

This is why; if before the farmers bought pesticides from merchants, now
they prefer buying them from specialized stores through their friends or
relatives or at least from those people, whom they trust, since the
pesticide sellers often confuse the farmers. `It happens so that, for
example, instead of selling pesticides for fighting against false flour dew
of grapes, they sell pesticides for fighting flour dew, which not only
does not achieve its result, but may have the adverse effect,’ says Gevorg

In contrast to *Meghri*, which is twice farer from Yerevan, in Goris and
Sisian pesticides (chemical and biological compounds, used for fighting
against pest and diseases in plants, pests in agricultural products and for
boosting the growth of plants), are in general sold in the same place – in
separate booths, at industrial and product stores, and most frequently – at
home, and even at drug stores. Naturally, the pesticides are sold in
violation of the requirements of the November 3, 2005 RA Government’s
decision `On Establishing the Specifities for Selling Pesticides and
Fertilizers’. According to this decision, a list with the names of
biological and chemical pesticides protecting plants and permitted in the
territory of Armenia, must be posted at all stores that sell these
substances and this list should be visible for the customers. Besides,
pesticides should be sold only in packages and by weight, they should have
tags, which should indicate their name, the name of the producer, the
specialized company and the seller, the price, the density of the active
substance, the risk level, the production and expiration dates, as well as
indications on first aid in case of poisoning. Unfortunately, when these
rules are not followed, no one bears the responsibility of the illegitimate
use of pesticides and other fertilizers. Meanwhile, the use of pesticides
of bad quality and unknown origin harms not only the biodiversity but also
the farms. `The use of bad quality and not guaranteed pesticides in wrong
portions, purchased from accidental persons, may harm hectares of arable
lands,’ says PhD in agricultural sciences Leno Bakunts. He mentions that
the use of `Simazin’ pesticide purchased from accidental persons years
destroyed 300 hectares of grain fields in the Tegh village of Goris,
undermining the possibility of having high-yield crops for the next year.
*Pesticides stores in Syunik*

A similar case was observed in the Syunik region, where pesticides were
used in the greenhouse and contaminated the plants. Later, the contaminated
seedlings were transferred to the land and the disease had spread over all
the plants in the field. Besides, some pesticides, such as the chemical
pesticide for protecting potato from the Colorado bug, should be annually
replaced by another pesticide. However, the farmers in general make use of
the same pesticide, since they do not have the means of purchasing new

Sometimes the farmers make use of such pesticides, which are out of usage,
like a pesticide called granoza that is applied for the disinfection of the
grain seedlings. And event though currently it is not included in the list
with the names of biological and chemical pesticides protecting plants and
permitted in the territory of Armenia, accidental people continue selling
the pesticide in big quantities, especially in rural communities.

Naturally, in this case Point 6 of Part 1 of Article 9 of RA Law `On
Quarantine of Flora and Protection of Plants’ is not respected. According
to this provision, legal and physical entities engaged in agriculture in
the RA should take measures for protecting the soil from ill-effects of the
chemical and biological pesticides, and their harmful residues.

In addition to endangering the biodiversity, the human life is also
affected. `In the last years an increase in skin diseases is being
observed, which is also caused by the more frequent and improper use of
pesticides in agriculture,’ says dermatologist and venerologist Levon
Harutiunyan. He thinks that there is a common thinking especially among the
rural people that the use of pesticides is enough for having the desired
result. While being only concerned for getting the maximum out of the soil,
in order to improve their social condition, villagers make excessive use of
pesticides. Moreover, since they purchase pesticides form unspecialized
stores, where no indications on their usage is provided, contacting them
without gloves often brings to their absorption into the organism through
food. This may cause not only skin diseases, but also infertility and
tumor. The fact that the Cancer Center of Syunik is among the first ones in
terms of the patients’ number, is perhaps also related to this. There have
been registered cases of death caused by the improper use of pesticides,

The best part of the abovementioned issues would certainly not exist, if
Syunik region with its 18026 agriculture lands had at least one specialized
store, where the farmers could purchase the necessary pesticides. For
example, in Syunik region, the demand for one pesticide – Raxil seed
disinfectant – for only 12.851hectares of winter grains makes 1 tons 542

*Samvel Davtyan, *Head of `Farm of Goris’ CJSC says that he spends 300-320
AMD for buying pesticides necessary for the cultivation at his household.
And if he buys the pesticides from specialized stores of Yerevan, in the
case of other people engaged in grain growing, there are no guarantees that
they will have these means. Hence, they pay more to the re-sellers, however
having no guarantees on the pesticides’ origin.

Under the Markets for Meghri Project, financed by the Swiss Agency for
Development and Cooperation and administered by Shen NGO and HELVETAS Swiss
Intercooperation company, in April of this year an exposition of
agriculture products was opened in Meghri. The exposition aimed to present
to the agricultural households the fertilizers, seed compounds and
pesticides of local and foreign production. The Project Coordinator Artur
Hayrapetyan tells that during a single day more than 150 residents of
Meghri had the chance to buy high-quality pesticides from the
representatives of `Art Agro’, `Sis 95′, `Hrashk Aygi’ and other companies.
Hayk Ivanyan, manager of `Hrashk Aygi’ LLC specialized in the sales of
pesticides, believes that the exposition not only supports the farmers in
order them to buy the necessary pesticides by affordable prices but also
increase the demand of their products. According to Sargis Tsakanyan,
representative of `Sis 95′ LLC, such initiatives are also useful for the
farmers, who get consultation, leaflets on the terms of use of the
pesticides that they buy at the exposition.

However, the issue is not only in ensuring the quality and safety of the
pesticides and other compounds. The RA Law `On Licensing’ states that the
sales and/or production of chemical and biological pesticides for the
protection of plants should be organized by the businessmen upon a special
license delivered by the RA Ministry of Agriculture.

*Arman Hambardzumyan, *Acting Chief of Licensing Department of RA Ministry
of Agriculture informs that as of June 8, 2012 93 licenses were issued for
93 businessmen, none of which is from Syunik. `The license for the sales
chemical and biological pesticides for plants protection is issued for an
indefinite term and in 30 days upon the submission of the required
documents,’ Mr. Hambardzumyan mentions. He also adds that for obtaining a
license at least a vocational education in the field of agriculture is
required, while in case of legal entities – the presence of at least one
employee having the proper qualification.

In the words of Arman Hambardzumyan, since 2007 there have been no
applications for a license from Syunik region, and he has no information
whether someone from Syunik has ever received one. In this case, it is at
least strange that before the publication of this article, on different
occasions `Makich and Macho’ LLC operating in Sisian sub-region, was
persistently referring to its license for pesticides sales The LLC was also
emphasizing that it had only one store in Sisian and opening branches in
other parts of the region was `not profitable and beneficial’, as the
company’s director Sevada Ivanyan noted. Now that as a result of legal
proceedings `Makich and Macho’ LLC is declared bankrupt, it announces that
it does not have a license, meanwhile, according to the Acting Chief of the
Licensing Department , no legal or physical entity specialized in pesticide
sales were registered in Syunik region.

*Artur Nikoyan*, Head of Phytosanitary Inspection of the State Service for
Food Safety of the Ministry of Agriculture, believes that the procedure for
issuing a license for pesticide sales is complicated. For getting a license
there should be production and/or sales areas, which should comply with the
sanitary rules and norms approved by the Health Care Minister. According to
these rules, in addition to ensuring the requirement of a 50m security zone
separating the place of sales and the residential areas, as well as
guaranteeing the provision of having a 35m surface for the place of sales,
the license holder should have 1 hectares of territory for organizing
sales, which in the opinion of Artur Nikoyan is not realistic.

However, Artur Nikoyan highlights the importance of the requirement about
the seller’s qualification. He also doesn’t exclude that illegal places of
sales may be operating in different regions nowadays. For example, in the
same Syunik region the merchants do not satisfy the demands of the farmers.
Sales of fake and expired pesticides are also possible, which not only
harms the agricultural households but also can be extremely dangerous for
human health.

As Artur Nikoyan reports, in 2011 736 tones and 882 kilos of pesticides was
imported to the Republic of Armenia. Meanwhile, 600 scheduled expertises
for pesticide sales-control are being annually carried out on plants. The
expertise aims at defining the constitution of the active substances in the
sold pesticides, identifying quarantine and other harmful organisms.

As regards the unlicensed trade of pesticides, *Arayik Ghazaryan, *Chief
Inspector of Syunik Department of RA Service of Food Safety, informs that
their institution administers supervisory duties – controls the trade of
pesticides that are not included in the list with the names of biological
and chemical pesticides protecting plants and permitted in the territory of
Armenia and the implementation of the license requirements, as well as does

The most awkward thing here is that if no legal or physical entity has a
license in Syunik region for the trade of biological and other pesticides,
what is the sampling done on, how the composition of the pesticide, class
and quality and expiration date is identified.

One must probably suppose that the above-mentioned institution, even though
still in its formation process, should only deal with prohibiting the trade
of pesticides. This is a function that is not duly implemented. The reason
for this is not the fact that the inspection of companies with more than a
70 million turnover is prohibited by the RA Government’s decision, but
there simple logic laying behind this – as the chief inspector notes – they
don’t want to be bad person and deprive the people of the possibility of
earning some money. Besides, they are convinced that otherwise hundreds of
rural households will face a challenge and will not be able to take
necessary actions towards soil cultivation, usage of pesticides,
fertilizers and fight against tare, seed dispersal effectiveness, seedlings
production and sales, as well as quality ensuring in compliance with
agriculture rules.

And again, if there are no permitted sales spots in the region, on what
samples does the inspectoral toxicological laboratory make expert
conclusions? Does this mean that they reduce the sum of 150 million AMD
yearly allocated by the state for the plants protection in proportion to
the sum allocated to Syunik region?

*A residential house near a kindergarten. Pesticides
**against **potato diseases are sold at the entry*

Edgar Tokhsants, Head of Syunik’s Veterinary and Sanitary Laboratory
Service State Non-Trade Organization, notes that their institutions makes
regular checkups, identifies the quantity of toxics in different
pesticides. `This is a newly-established body. We carry out regular
inspections and have identified different causes of intoxication, but we
haven’t disclosed any toxins yet. The most recent laboratory study revealed
that the intoxication of chickens was caused by arsenic. In the past, when
I was the head of the state veterinary and food safety inspection (some
structural changes were made to it), we made inspections and often
encountered food stores that sold pesticides. One of the most bizarre cases
was registered in Harzhis village.’

The rainfalls, humid weather of the current year are harming the gardening
and vegetable cultivation, diseases and pests have raised their heads. For
their prevention the rural households have to take additional efforts. They
should use pesticides, which, like before, may have an adverse effect not
because the farmers lack information on their terms of use, but also
because they have no guarantees that they won’t contain illegimately
purchased substances, the quality and composition of which has not been
checked, which are, however, being sold in the market by high prices.

Putting aside the fact that sometimes the land owners do not use the
necessary pesticides at the right time, and often use ineffective
compounds, it is also important how well these persons are informed about
the possible ill-effects of pesticides sold without a license, and whether
there are enough information channels for holding the regional land users
informed about this. In this regard, the consultants of the Syunik
Agricultural Support Centre are carrying out duties, but do not have any
supervisory authority to prohibit the farmers from using the unauthorized

In his annual 2011 assessment of RA Ministry of Agriculture, RA Human
Rights Defender Karen Andreasyan appraised the fact that as result of
legislative initiative the value added tax on the import of agricultural
products, including on pesticides and their trade in the internal market,
was relieved. `This could make the purchase of these products more
affordable for the farmers.’

Isn’t there any need to define some privileges for abating the requirements
for the trade, and sales of pesticides through such legislative
initiatives? This would naturally encourage the businessmen to obtain a
license in accordance to the order and legislative requirements, which in
its turn would satisfy the demand of 18 thousand residents of the region.

There is also another issue. If the region still does not have any licensed
companies, which in terms defined by law, would also be responsible for
minimizing the ill-effect of the unsold pesticides, then where are the
unused pesticides being consumed now? Are the community heads concerned
about prohibiting the sales of fake pesticides on their territories? Are
they concerned about the destruction of the unused extra quantity of
pesticides being sold in their communities that is provided by law, and are
they aware that the gas generated from pesticides negatively affects the
health of the community residents?

In other countries 3-5 dollars is being spent to neutralize the danger from
pesticides. Do our community heads envision any spending for this purpose,
when drafting the community budget? If no, this means that we – without
committing any crime – receive the same toxin that they inject to people
sentenced to death penalty in some country.

*This investigation is done with support from the Danish Association for
Investigative Journalism/Scoop*.