Stakeholders raise alarm over indiscriminate use of pesticides by farmers
Indiscriminate use of pesticides such as herbicides and insecticides by Nigerian farmers and grain dealers has persisted over the years and poses a serious threat to human life and the environment.
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have lamented the ugly situation and called on the government to put control measures in place so as to avert the dangers associated with it.
One of the stakeholders, Mr. Nnamdi Ukoko, an agro products supplier, told our reporter that many of our farmers are largely unaware of the health implications of the chemicals to themselves (farmers) and consumers as well.
He said, “The chemicals are not safe; moreover the farmers use them anyhow. Many of them do not follow recommendations. They don’t know that the chemicals harm the crops, the soil and poison water bodies around the farm.”
Another stakeholder, Mr. Anthony Edeh, an agronomist, attributed the indiscriminate use of herbicides and insecticides by farmers and sellers of agricultural produce to illiteracy.
“Many of our farmers cannot read instructions on the labels. They don’t wear protective apparels when spraying the chemicals which are harmful to the body. Some of them even mix the chemicals with their bare hands,” he lamented.
He disclosed that some of the chemicals our farmers use in the country have been banned and urged the government to create awareness and sensitize the farmers on safe use of agro chemicals through extension agents and other avenues.
A farmer from Benue State, Mr. Vitalis Tarnungo, told our reporter that the local farmers didn’t really know the dangers involved and how to properly apply the chemicals, adding that even some of the literate ones were also culprits as they hardly followed recommendations.
“This is why we train farmers in our cooperative on good agronomic practices and safe use of pesticides from time to time to avoid harmful effects,” the farmer said.
A foodstuff seller, Mrs. Blessing Itodo, told our reporter that some grain dealers carelessly applied insecticides without considering the health implications on the consumers.
She called on dealers who engaged in such practice to desist from it while urging concerned government agencies to properly monitor the situation and punish anybody found culpable.
Commenting on the issue, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, Coordinating Director of the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), said farmers should be adequately sensitised so that they could do the right thing right from the farm.
Also reacting, a source at the Farm Inputs Support Services Department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, who does not want his name in print, described the situation as ‘ dangerous and unacceptable.’
He said the government has since been creating awareness and sensitizing the farmers on the dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides and would continue to do more, especially now that a lot of emphasis was on safe agricultural produce.
The source added that the government was now encouraging farmers to use organic pesticides which had no residual effect.
A private medical expert in Bwari in the FCT, Dr. A. Odunoye, said constant exposure to such chemicals could cause cancer on the users now or in the future.
Reacting, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh , Director Special Duties of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), said the indiscriminate application of herbicides and pesticides by farmers has been a recurring issue for the agency, saying that because a bulk of the farmers in the country are not literate, when they get the herbicides and pesticides, they don’t apply or use them correctly.
He said aside the wrong applications of the chemicals, the abuse of the process continues after they are harvested as the farmers do not allow them to pass through the ‘ wash off’ phase or misapplication of chemicals for preservation during storage.
Dr Jimoh said when pesticides and herbicides are wrongly used, they have devastating effects on human health, including carcinogenic effects, adding that the wrong use of herbicides and pesticides by farmers in Nigeria is the reason for the current ban on beans and other products from Nigeria by the European Union.
Farmers spray pesticide on their farm in Benue State