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NAFDAC to phase out harmful pesticides

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By Abraham Adekunle

Agency boss expressed worries over toxicity in their misuse and abuse.

Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is seeking the support of stakeholders to phase out harmful pesticides that have become pervasive in the country. In a statement that was released by the agency’s spokesperson On May 7, 2023, the director of the agency, Mrs. Mojisola Adeyeye, expressed worries over the toxicity associated with the misuse and abuse of these pesticides. She said it affected food safety and food security in the country.

Mrs. Adeyeye mentioned that according to a study conducted by Heinrich Boll Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), 40 percent of pesticides used in Nigeria had been banned in the European Union. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) had alerted the agency on the possibility that the EU and the United Kingdom were exporting banned neonicotinoid pesticides to Nigeria and other poorer countries. Emphasis was placed on Chlorpyrifos and its variants due to their harmful effects on humans, animals, beneficial insects, and the environment.

Pesticides are essential products for survival in a country.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, or controlling any pest. This includes vectors of human or animal disease and unwanted species of plants or animals that cause harm during the production, processing, storage, transport, or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood, etc. In other words, these substances are meant to control pests. This means that farmers need it to prevent pests from attacking their farm produce.

Consequently, Mrs. Adeyeye stressed that NAFDAC’s mandate, as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria, is to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale, and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, detergent and others. This has made it necessary for NAFDAC to review and analyze the list of registered pesticide and agrochemical active ingredients in the NAFDAC Registered Product Automated Database (NARPAD). Mrs. Adeyeye said that the outcome of the review was shared with stakeholders at a three-day virtual stakeholders’ engagement held on the 22nd, 24th, and 29th days of November 2022.

Stakeholders to institute stewardship plans in their companies.

The Agency’s boss disclosed that the review meeting emphasized the proposed phase-out or banning of these active ingredients. The meeting was attended by proponent holders of marketing authorizations and NGOs, organizations such as All Farmers Association of Nigeria, CropLife Nigeria, Nigeria Agro-Input Dealers Association, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as research institutes. According to her, at the end of the meeting, stakeholders agreed that pesticide and agrochemical importers and manufacturers would be advised to institute stewardship plans such as Post Marketing Surveillance and research in their companies.

She stated that the agency would join efforts with research institutes to conduct research and generate scientific data on pesticides. She said that the result of these steps would help officials of the agency make evidence-based decisions and policies. As well, the agency will engage with FMARD, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON, National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA), and Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service. The engagement would be to ensure synergy in the regulation of pesticide and agrochemical products in the country.

Some decisive bans have been announced by the agency.

It has also been announced that Paraquat, Chlorpyrifos, and Atrazine have been banned, effective from January 1, 2024, November 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025 respectively. Mrs. Adeyeye also said that NAFDAC had initiated the action plan to ban and/or phase out 12 active ingredients while reclassifying four others. The director-general said that NAFDAC put into consideration the availability of alternatives in the country to ensure that stakeholders, most especially farmers, will not be affected by the decisions taken.

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