The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) asserted that almost 80 percent of exported agricultural commodities of Nigeria oftentimes face rejection by the European Union (EU) for failure to meet the required standards. The development has caused massive losses for farmers and exporters and led them into debts of millions of naira. It has also abated the image of the country due to the unacceptability of its agricultural commodities in foreign countries.
Rejection of these commodities are tied to many factors but majorly to abuse of pesticides. Experts say there are three types of pesticides namely; herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. These pesticides are used for the purpose of killing various kinds of pests found on the farm and for stimulation of better harvest. Despite the efficiency of these pesticides, it has been deduced that they pose hidden threats to the farmers, consumers, the environment and the animals. Herbicides boost the food supply yield but are also infamous for contributing to pollution and ill health – skin irritation, respiratory problem and cancer.
Banned pesticides killed 250 people in 2020, Benue State.
EU pointed out high pesticides used for preservation of some produce as the major reason for recent commodities rejections. A few years ago, the EU banned beans which were found to contain between 0.03mg kilograms to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos (pesticides) beyond acceptable limits. In Benue State, about 250 people died from a mysterious illness in 2020 before there was a later discovery that banned pesticides in a nearby river had poisoned them. A recent report has also proven that about 40 percent of all pesticides currently in use in the country are dangerous and have been banned in European markets.
According to a survey organized by the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization of Nigeria and Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria shows that about 80 percent of pesticides in use by many women in some parts of the North-central region are very toxic to humans and are under the classification of Highly Hazardous Pesticides which need additional regulations. The survey was conducted with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation and the German green organization and involvement of 107 women farmers in Nasarawa, Abuja, Benue and Plateau states.
Soil fertility can be built through farm wastes, without fertilizers.
The pesticides found during the course of the survey include atrazine, carbofuran, dichlorvos (ddvp), glysulphate, mancozeb, iprobenfos, butachlor, cypermethrin, endosulfan, imidacloprid, paraquat and triazophos. Stakeholders and health experts have described the situation as worrisome as it has increased the danger of consumption of locally grown produce due to its tie with various kinds of diseases. Reports further state that some of the symptoms of pesticide-related diseases include dizziness, nausea, eye problems, catarrh, respiratory problems, difficulty in breathing, headache, vomiting, skin rashes, diarrhea and others.
According to the former National Public Relations Officer of the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN), Mr. Taiwo Oduola, asserted that the negative impacts of the chemical usage have propelled various cases of terminal diseases. He said that the pesticides that are the cause of rejection of Nigeria’s farm yields were initiated by the same developing countries who reject Nigeria’s produce. The PRO added that farmers are oblivious of the fact that the fertility of the soil can be built through farm wastes as manure without the use of fertilizer.
Reamendment of NAFDAC Act for immediate ban of dangerous pesticides.
Commenting on the development, an Agro exporter, Adeola Dacosta, urged the Federal Government to initiate strategies for regulation on the use of pesticides to produce food. The exporter proposed an amendment of the National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Act to empower the agency to immediately ban pesticide products proven to be highly hazardous to human lives. A farmer, Mobolaji Alabi, stated the need for extension officers and Agricultural Development Programme to enlighten farmers on the proper use of pesticides.