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NAFDAC to phase out hazardous pesticides

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By Mercy Kelani

80% of frequently used agrochemical have highly harmful effects.

A recent study carried out by the Heinrich Boll Foundation disclosed that above the overall importation of Southern Africa and North Africa — 87,403 tonnes and 109,561 tonnes respectively — the annual importation of pesticides in Nigeria is at 147,446 tonnes. Despite increasing imports, recording usage of these pesticides has proven to be an herculean task due to the informal agricultural production practiced in the country. Surveys have proved that about 80 percent of the pesticides frequently used by small-scale farmers are highly hazardous.

Majority of these highly hazardous pesticides existing in Nigeria have been prohibited in the European Union. The report cited the illegality of purchasing, selling, importing, transiting, transporting, depositing and storing banned and obsolete chemicals in the Nigerian territory or water. The banned pesticides are mostly used in production of agricultural commodities like yam, fruits, bean, cassava, maize, cocoa and others. However, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are working relentlessly to eradicate banned pesticides.

Pesticides are harmful to humans & the environment.

Director General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, revealed that the agency is about to ban another 12 pesticides and agrochemical active ingredients in Nigeria. Therefore, she urges stakeholders and the general public to cooperate with the agency to ensure total riddance of hazardous chemicals in the country. She stated that application of pesticides are conducted both indoors and outdoors to manage pests, vector-borne diseases and protect crops. Some of these chemicals are infused in textile, carpets, paints and treated wood for control of pest and fungi.

The NAFDAC boss showed concerns about the toxicity that accompanies misuse and abuse of the pest control chemicals, stating how it affects food safety and security in the country. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also recently alerted NAFDAC on the likelihood that the European Union and the United Kingdom export banned neonicotinoid pesticides to Nigeria and other low-income countries. More emphasis was laid on chlorpyrifos and its variants as they are more harmful to humans, beneficial insects, animals and the environment.

Post-marketing surveillance & education will increase in the country.

Rising increase in usage of European-banned pesticides in the country has prompted the review and analysis of the list of registered pesticides and agrochemical active ingredients in the agency’s registered product automated database and non-approved and banned ones. This act, according to Adeyeye, is done to protect the health of the nation. Meeting held by stakeholders, NGOs agreed on advising importers and manufacturers of pesticides and agrochemical to practice stewardship plans like post-marketing surveillance and research on their manufacturing companies.

Adeyeye of NAFDAC assured that there would be a collaboration between the agency and research institutes for conduction of research and generation of scientific data on pesticides to enhance decisions and policies based in evidence. Post-marketing surveillance, sensitization and education of stakeholders will be intensified across the nation on appropriate use of pesticides. The collaboration will be between NAFDAC and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency, the Standards Organization of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service.

Usage of these chemicals are frequently done irresponsibly.

According to a report by the ICIR titled “Death in small doses: How food vendors, fruit sellers, farmers poison Nigerians with agrochemicals”, fruit, fish, meat sellers and farmers use these chemicals irresponsibly for ripening and preservation of goods. Findings of this report also revealed that although usage of these chemicals is allowed for food storage at permissible levels for avoidance of post-harvest losses, majority of those who conduct administration of these chemicals lack proper training. NAFDAC is therefore urged to strengthen enforcement of its regulations to phase out banned chemicals.

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