Haryana has forever been known for its superlative quality food. The popular saying about the state Hara-Bhara Haryana, Jit Doodh-Dahi Ka Khana stands as a regular testimony to the tradition of excellent agriculture in the state, and also testifies to the fact that Haryana's dairy production since time immemorial has been superior and better in quality than any other part of India. There has, however, been one persistent concern that has over the past few decades threatened this claim of excellence. Food contamination is now rampant in Haryana and the state administration has consistently turned a blind eye to the issue.
The contamination of food grains, fruits, and vegetables starts with harmful insecticides, pesticides, and weed killers that are routinely sprayed during farming. A test of about 80 vegetables from the state revealed that about 32% of these were contaminated by organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides at levels way above their MRL values. Storage and transportation are also areas where contaminants are easily introduced into food items. In a recent study it was reported that the gunny bags used to package and transport food grains absorb moisture and contaminants making them unsafe for ingestion. This leads to break outs of food poisoning and other health issues as well as long term diseases including cancer.
Apart from food grains, the contamination of milk and dairy products has been reported from various parts of Haryana and is a major concern. Milk and milk products have a tendency to retain insecticides such as HCH and DDT despite being processed. Haryana produces 66.61 lakh tonnes of milk each year (2011-12 statistics). The daily per capita milk production of the state is at 708 gm - the second highest in the country. Haryana's potential to grow as the dairy capital of India and even Asia is very high. Contamination of milk and dairy products is not only a major health concern for the state but also foil any attempts for the state to grow as a dairy exporter.
The state government's role in preventing contamination starts with promotion of organic farming without use of chemicals and toxic substances as manure and pesticides. Prohibition of harmful pesticides and insecticides that shall be retained by food grains, fruits, vegetables and other edible crops is another action that must be undertaken. Making safe storage possible for farmers and cultivators is very important since a great deal of food contamination is introduced after the harvest of crops. Introduction and promotion of healthy veterinary practices is also important to ensure the health of cattle and the safety of dairy products.
Food contamination poses major concerns to the state of Haryana on many levels. Apart from posing a major health concern for the people of the state, it also delivers a blow to the economy of the state by inhibiting exports. A Naya Haryana must be built up on solid foundations the rich heritage of agriculture and dairy production must be upheld without hampering the quality of production. The state government's urgent intervention in this matter is not only mandatory but also absolutely essential.