Cotton growers, Azerbaijan, June 2018. Photo: Meydan TV.

14 August 2018, 22:11

Meydan TV points to link of cotton growers' poisoning with Baku ambitions

The drop of oil prices has forced Azerbaijan to look for alternative sources of filling in the budget; and the authorities have "staked on cotton," despite the threat to people's health, the Meydan TV has reported today after examining the situation with mass workers' poisonings in cotton fields.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on June 10-20, in the Saatli, Terter, Imishli and Yevlakh Districts of Azerbaijan, four cases of mass poisonings of workers in cotton fields were registered. In total, 143 people were hospitalized, according to the calculations of the "Caucasian Knot".

After this summer's mass poisoning of cotton growers, the Meydan TV journalists asked the question: how much does it really cost for the country to cultivate cotton? The details of the study are presented in the today's material "Azerbaijani cotton: cost of the issue".

Cotton growers, Saatli District. Photo: Meydan-TV

"We all had stomach pains; then the foam came out of our mouths; we were frightened and left the field; those who felt better brought us to the hospital," Gulnara Gardashova, a 33-year-old agricultural worker, told the Meydan TV. On June 10, she was hospitalized after she got poisoned in the Saatli District.

According to her story, on June 10, before the works, "the farmer said that the land had been sprayed with some chemicals."

According to some reports, the number of those poisoned is estimated in hundreds, although the true extent of what has happened is concealed by the authorities, the Meydan TV has specified.

The procurement and distribution of pesticides are mainly carried out by government-controlled agro-industrial associations; therefore, it is difficult for journalists to obtain information about the applied pesticides, the TV reports.

On July 3, the "Ifact.ge" website, engaged in journalistic investigations, posted a photo of containers from chemicals found in the cotton fields of the Saatli District. "Judging by the inscriptions on containers, the chemical is called Rifle 48 EC; it contains a toxic substance trifluralin, which was banned in the EU ten years ago, but in some countries (including the USA, Canada and Turkey), trifluralin is still used to treat fields, but only in special overalls," wrote the author of the article on the Meydan TV.

Besides, photos were posted of packages from chemicals found in the fields in Imishli. Judging by inscriptions, pesticides were used hare made by an Azerbaijani company connected with the relatives of the Azerbaijani president, the source reports.

The origin of pesticides, probably, will not be established, Vakhid Magerramov, an expert on agrarian issues, believes. "The perpetrators are so powerful that law enforcement bodies are helpless to cope with them," the author of the article quotes the expert as saying.

According to the Meydan TV, three years ago the authorities decided that cotton could become an alternative to the exports of the oils that is getting cheaper, and declared the cotton growing to be a strategic sphere. Last year, the president issued a decree, stating that by 2020, the production of cotton should grow up to 500,000 tons per year.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 14, 2018 at 05:12 pm MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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