Pes­ti­cide use on beans, fruits heighten food safety con­cerns

Vin­cent A. Yusuf (Abuja), Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano) & Romoke W. Ah­mad (Ilorin)

Weekly Trust - - News -

Last week, the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Coun­cil re­leased a warn­ing on the ap­pli­ca­tion of 2.2 dichlorovinyl dimethyl phos­phates com­monly called “Sniper” in beans and the con­se­quences on con­sumer health.

A sim­i­lar YouTube video show­ing some per­sons ap­ply­ing Sniper to pre­serve beans fur­ther height­ened se­ri­ous con­cerns over food safety sys­tems and res­onated the EU’s sanc­tion of Nige­rian beans.

Cur­rently, Nige­ria can­not ex­port beans to Euro­pean coun­tries be­cause of pes­ti­cide residue lev­els in beans, which is above the EU ac­cept­able limit of 0.01 dichlor­vos level.

Ear­lier this year, Daily Trust in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed that farm­ers and fruit sell­ers used car­bide to ripen fruits across many mar­kets in the coun­try. The story, which showed wide­spread ap­pli­ca­tion, height­ened fears among con­sumers.

This lat­est incident raises con­cern over the safety of what Nige­ri­ans eats as beans, fruits and vegeta­bles in­dis­crim­i­nately pre­served with pes­ti­cides.

The CPC in the state­ment noted that “sniper, by its chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion and na­ture, is po­ten­tially in­ju­ri­ous when peo­ple are un­duly ex­posed by in­hala­tion, ab­sorp­tion, di­rect skin con­tact or in­jec­tion”.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion warned that there were sig­nif­i­cantly height­ened risks of in­jury to a per­son ap­ply­ing Sniper to beans be­cause of di­rect con­tact. How­ever, the risk of in­jury on ac­count of con­sump­tion of beans ex­posed to or treated with sniper is also ex­is­ten­tial , even though an un­in­tended con­se­quence.”

Dr Vin­cent Isegbe, the co­or­di­nat­ing di­rec­tor of the Nige­rian Agri­cul­tural Quar­an­tine Ser­vice, dur­ing an in­ter­view with Daily Trust in Abuja, ex­pressed se­ri­ous con­cerns over the ac­tiv­i­ties of some beans mar­keters and ex­porters who overuse pes­ti­cides to pre­serve beans.

He noted that de­spite em­bark­ing on aware­ness cam­paigns across ma­jor grains and beans mar­kets across the coun­try, some peo­ple still car­ried out the ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­ity, lead­ing to the ex­ten­sion of the ban on Nige­rian beans by the EU.

“We are still not where we are sup­posed to be. What re­sulted in the three year EU ban still sub­sists,” he stated, adding, “The agency is work­ing to en­sure that there will be no pes­ti­cides above per­mis­si­ble limit, no pests, gen­er­ally the com­modi­ties will be phys­i­cally clean, well pack­aged, la­beled for both lo­cal con­sump­tion and ex­port.”

A lo­cal beans farmer, Mo­hammed Adamu, told Daily Trust that most of those who car­ried out the ac­tiv­i­ties were mar­keters that mop and store beans for fu­ture mar­kets.

“The small­holder farm­ers most times don’t keep their beans be­yond two months be­cause of their fi­nan­cial needs. And those who keep be­yond three months have tra­di­tional ways of stor­ing these that make it dif­fi­cult for wee­vils to at­tack. But there are peo­ple who are into the beans busi­ness, buy­ing from vil­lage to vil­lage and col­lat­ing it into ware­houses where they are pre­pared with pes­ti­cides for stor­age,” Adamu said.

He fur­ther said: “If you scru­ti­nize the beans stored in ma­jor cities and the ones we have in the vil­lages, the dif­fer­ent will be clear. I know some farm­ers, es­pe­cially those who cul­ti­vate large quan­ti­ties also do so but the per­pe­tra­tors are mostly mar­keters.”

Re­act­ing to the devel­op­ment, the Nige­rian Stored Prod­ucts Re­search In­sti­tute (NSPRI) Ilorin, said there are many ways to store grains like beans with­out adding chem­i­cals to it.

The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor/ CEO of the in­sti­tute, Pro­fes­sor Olufemi Peters, told Daily Trust that the prob­lem of high sus­cep­ti­bil­ity of beans to in­sect in­fes­ta­tion re­sults in huge losses, low­ers food se­cu­rity and food safety.

He listed sys­tems of stor­age to in­clude; her­metic stor­age, di­atoma­ceous earth, in­ert atmosphere sys­tem and fu­mi­ga­tion among oth­ers.

The Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Devel­op­ment, Chief Audu Og­beh, while speak­ing on the is­sue with agric jour­nal­ists in Otukpo, Benue State re­cently, said:

“If you want to pre­serve beans, just put a tiny cut of hot pep­per in it be­cause it is an­other cheap and safe way to pre­serve beans. That’s why we use the NOA and com­mu­nity en­gage­ments to in­form the peo­ple.”

Chied Og­beh stressed: “We are avoid­ing chem­i­cals be­cause so many young peo­ple are de­vel­op­ing kid­ney fail­ure due to

use of such chem­i­cals.” Grains prices crash in Kano

Mean­while, our cor­re­spon­dent in Kano re­ports that the grains mar­ket in the state has been hit by the re­cent re­ports of the use pes­ti­cides to pre­serve them, lead­ing to dras­tic fall in prices.

The re­ports have gen­er­ated se­ri­ous panic among beans con­sumers in the state and made many scep­ti­cal about beans con­sump­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a res­i­dent, Malam Ah­mad Us­man Kankan, many heads of fam­i­lies have is­sued strong warn­ings to their wives on use of beans.

“We have heard the warn­ing on some ra­dio sta­tions and some of us have read it on the pages of news­pa­pers that some peo­ple are us­ing poi­son to pre­serve beans, there­fore we warned our wives not to use beans un­til we are sat­is­fied that it is safe through mea­sures by health of­fi­cials,” he said.

Sim­i­larly, a mer­chant at the fa­mous Dawanau in­ter­na­tional grains mar­ket, Al­haji Dan­l­iti Ba­rau, told our re­porter that the price of beans had crashed since the re­port went vi­ral. Ac­cord­ing to him, a bag of beans which went for N28, 000 last week is now sold at be­tween N19, 000 and N20, 000. He added that even at that the buy­ers are not forth­com­ing as ex­pected. Car­bide used in ripen­ing fruits

Fol­low­ing Daily Trust’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion in April on the use of Car­bide to ripen fruits which stirred out­rage among con­sumers, our re­porter went back to the Zuba In­ter­na­tional fruits mar­ket, one of the big­gest fruit mar­kets in the coun­try to check if the prac­tice con­tin­ued.

Although this is not the sea­son for man­goes, one of the ma­jor fruits af­fected, there has been some high level of con­trol in its use com­pared to when Daily Trust first in­ves­ti­gated the is­sue.

Abubakar Duara, the spokesman of Fruits Sell­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria, said since that re­port, the union lead­ers re­or­ga­nized the mar­ket for easy mon­i­tor­ing, con­trol and sanc­tion­ing of any­one in­volved in the act.

He stressed that the mar­ket is now or­ga­nized in sec­tions with sec­tional lead­ers who en­sure com­pli­ance and a task­force vis­its these sec­tions to as­cer­tain the true sit­u­a­tion.

“We used to go to these sec­tions un­ex­pected to make sure that there is noth­ing like car­bide ap­pli­ca­tion,” he said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions show pes­ti­cides are also used to ripe fruits

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