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Hazardous Pesticides in farm produce

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By Mercy Kelani

270 people died due to contamination of a water source by pesticide, in 2020.

Stakeholders expressed their worry on the effects of the high application of hazardous pesticides on food manufacturing in Nigeria. According to recent reports, 80–90 percent of pesticide products are generally used on farm production and they are dangerous; while 50 percent of common pesticides brands applied by Nigerian farmers are classified as Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP). However, the United States of America and the European Union (EU) have banned many of these active ingredients due to its negative consequences on the environment and human health.

In 2020, it was reported that 270 people died due to the contamination of a water source by the use of a pesticide on a neighbouring farm. In addition, experts stated that the increase in kidney diseases and other deadly ailments, owing to the consumption of food products, are some of the consequences of these active ingredients. Investigations depict that the average Nigerian consumers are ignorant of the quantity of pesticides present in the food they purchase and eat, nevertheless, the regular test of exported food showed that pesticide residues highly surpassed the highest limit on some farm crops.

Ban on beans export causes a yearly loss of $375 million.

There is a high effect of this development on the food export hope of the country. Agricultural products such as groundnut, palm oil, sesame seed, and beans that were imported from Nigeria were banned by the European Union due to the presence of pesticide residue in 2015. The ban on beans export causes a sum of $375 million loss for Nigeria, every year. Nnimmo Bassey, the Director of Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), emphasized the need for small scale farmers to be supported by policy shift to manufacture agricultural products that are healthy for consumers and the environment.

According to a recent report by the Alliance for Pesticides in Nigeria, he added that the largest importer of this chemical in Africa is Nigeria, with a 2020 record of 147,000 tonnes of importation. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also affirmed that about $384 million was spent on importation of the chemical. He added that destruction of soil microorganisms that are essential to healthy soils, disruption of pollination, destruction of beneficial insects, leakage of pesticide into the ground water to cause a long term destruction on the ecosystem are the consequences of pesticides in the environment.

Toxic agricultural produce end up in the Nigerian market.

Donald Ikenna Ofoegbu, the Programme Coordinator of Alliance for Pesticides in Nigeria, said that highly hazardous pesticides are used by 90 percent of small scale farmers; and out of the 13 most popular pesticides, seven have been banned worldwide due to the ability to cause cancer, but they are currently used in the country. He added that the use of this chemical is not the appropriate step to control pests infestation because there are control like milder chemicals, biological control and mechanical control which should be used before application of hazardous chemicals.

Ofoegbu said that more than 70-76 percent of food export are being rejected for many reasons, and one major reason is the presence of pesticide residue. He stated that 40 percent of sesame seed imported by Japan from Nigeria has been tested with the chemical residue which might stop future exportation of the products from Nigeria. Sadly, Nigeria experiences the sum of $376 million loss, every year, on the ban of beans exportation, but the root of the problems, which is the farm, has not been evaluated. Consequently, the toxic agricultural produce end up in the Nigerian market.

It is significant to regulate the use of pesticides in Nigeria.

Prof. Simon Irtwange, a member of the Action Alliance for Pesticides in Nigeria, said that it is significant to regulate the pesticides used in Nigeria due to the growing population in the country and the rising need for land cultivation. He stated that the use of pesticides in commercial production is to promote good production. Additionally, the introduction of new science and technology has made it imperative to take proper care of the use of chemicals in our agricultural produces.

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