Illegal insecticide on the market

A woman tending her farm
A woman tending her farm (Photo credit: Annie Spratt)

Coragen while not being an approved insecticide on the island, is being sold on the market and in the scheme of things some farmers have been scammed with fakes of the chemical. Before insecticides can be sold in Jamaica, they must be approved and registered by the Pesticide Authority of Jamaica (PAJ). Tamara Morrison, registrar of pesticides at the PAJ said Coragen is not on the approved list of insecticides.  “We’ve never received that product for an assessment for registration,” Morrison said. Since Coragen has not been registered she said there is no way for the authority to know whether or not the product is harmful and if farmers are using it correctly.

Morrison went on to explain that for an insecticide to be registered, an assessment of the active ingredient, all the side effects it may have and the environment impact of it.

Gary Thorpe (not his real name), a cabbage farmer in south Manchester, said he had bought Coragen on three separate occasions. He sid the chemical is sold in retail form, a repurposed 200ml rum flask bottle going for $20,000 or less and a liter being sold for up to $70,000. The first two times he bought the product, he says it was authentic but not the third time. “Mi buy a flask for $20,000 and when mi look it seem like not even a ounce of the chemical nuh in deh. It look like a some combination of some other thing dem mix up,” Thorpe said.

He said he knows his last bottle was not authentic because it did not kill the worms on his cabbages like the chemical did the two previous times. “The one weh mi buy this year, it come een like none a it nuh inna the bottle ’cause it don’t work. Mi use it and three or four day mi go back a the field and not one worm nuh dead. It look like mi cabbage dem worse cause a did just couple worm did deh pon it [before using the chemical]. When mi go back, maybe all triple the amount of worm deh there,” Thorpe explained.

Based on what he has been hearing about the fake version of Coragen, Thorpe speculates that condensed milk and Supligen was mixed to give the same look of the original insecticide.

When asked why he doesn’t want to buy chemicals offered in farm stores, he explained that they are not as effective as this. “You have a variety of chemicals out there for crops but, this one now, you have a specific worm that eat cabbage and this one work proper in doing that [killing the worms],” Thorpe said.

Morrison said for illegal products such as this, the PAJ can put out a notice if they are made of aware of where the product is being sold and who is selling it as well as report it to Jamaica Customs.


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