Stake­hold­ers raise alarm over in­dis­crim­i­nate use of pes­ti­cides by farm­ers

Daily Trust - - GOLDEN HARVEST - By Ahmed Dio Agbo & Ojoma Akor

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

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