It has been found that some vegetables imported from India contain high residues of pesticides. The news is disquieting.

It is a comfort, though, that the agriculture ministry asked the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) to impose a temporary ban on the import of beans and cauliflowers.

Bhutan imports a huge amount of vegetables every year. Although vegetable production has increased in recent years, we still have to resort to buying them from India due to increased demand at home. It is important, therefore, that we know what we buy.

BAFRA’s introduction of an import permit system to streamline and monitor the import of fruits and vegetables sounds like a practical solution. But we can ill afford to be lax about it. There should be no loopholes that vendors can take advantage of.

Agriculture ministry should continue carrying out regular surveillance of pesticide contents in fruits and vegetables through use of test kits and laboratory testing to ensure food safety. Monitoring should be done regularly and earnestly. Otherwise, consumers could be exposed to serious health risks.

What is equally important is that vendors are sensitised and made aware of the problems contaminated vegetables can cause to the consumers. Such programmes should be held regularly so that vendors are educated about the needs and their responsibility.

However, the problem will continue if we do not grow our own. Demand for vegetables will surpass supply and we will increasingly have to depend on imported vegetables. It is, therefore, time we encouraged our farmers to grow vegetables on a commercial scale. If full and partial state support to the farmers is required it should be provided.

We need to grow and eat our own.