Stakeholders urge FG to declare state of emergency on expired pesticides

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Stakeholders at the recent CSO strategic planning meeting on Pesticide Use and Regulation in Nigeria organized by Trade Network Initiative (TNI) with the support of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) has called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on the presence of banned and expired pesticides in Nigeria.

This is even as they pointed out the 2020 HBS report on pesticide regulation which revealed that 40% of all the pesticide products registered in Nigeria have been withdrawn from the European market or are heavily restricted.

The stakeholders in a communique released after the meeting in Abuja recently further urged the government to give an executive order to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Food Safety, the National Food Safety Management Committee and the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Pesticide Regualtion to form a High Level Task Force on Pesticides to interogate the gaps in the country’s pesticide regulation and abuse in Nigeria, saying the executive order should demand the involvment of CSOs and State government actors in the working of the task force.

it also appeal to NASS to accelerate the passage of the bill that seeks the establishment of the Nigerian Pesticide Council and the passage of the Food Satefy Management Bill of 2019, as proposed presented by the Federal Ministry of Health.

“This 40% represents 57 active ingredients in 402 products that are still in use in Nigeria. Many of these belong to the group of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) which are especially dangerous for human health, animals and the environment. 25 registered products in Nigerian have been proven carcinogenic, 63 to be mutagenic, 47 are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, 262 products show neurotoxicity and 224 show clear effects on reproduction.

“65% of the active ingredients (26 out of 40) used by farmers in Nigeria as sampled in the above- mentioned 2021 HBS/ TNI field study belong to the group of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). 2 of these pesticides were found to be carcinogens and 2 are mutagens, 5 are known endocrine disruptor compounds (EDCs), 11 are proven neurotoxic and 12 are proven to affect the human reproduction system.

“The human and environmental impact of this situation

situation continues to mount: in a recent incident 270 people were confirmed dead in Benue state due to the poisoning of a river with a pesticide banned in Europe. The regular and ‘mysterious’ death of livestock, sparking attacks between farmer and herder communities, is all too often likely to be related to pesticide poisoning,” the communique reads.

The Stakeholders further raised the alarm that banned and expired pesticides are entering Nigeria largely unhindered through its ports, saying local retail markets where these products are retailed are barely checked.

”Farmers also lack the necessary safety training for proper pesticide use and cannot afford the needed personal protective equipment. Many farmers are not literate in English and therefore cannot understand the safety instructions on pesticide products, if there are labels at all.

“Farm Extension officers of both government and private sector are in short supply and existing farmer education does not focus on reducing pesticide use and the introduction of organic practices and soil improvement.

“As a result of the use of pesticides already banned in Europe and generally high pesticide use along the value chain, Nigeria has lost access to important export markets for key agricultural produce. This includes an ongoing EU ban on Nigerian beans due to high pesticide residue levels.”

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