Agriculture

Nigeria’s lack of pesticide policy and challenge of export worthiness

by EDITOR

August 29, 2017 | 5:53 pm
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Last year, the European Union extended its ban on Nigerian beans for three years when the initial probationary ban elapsed in June.
The European Food Safety Authority had in mid-2015 banned some Nigerian agricultural produce such as beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips. While the ban on other commodities was lifted, that of dried beans was retained, citing that the rejected beans were found to contain between 0.03mg per kilogramme to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide, when the acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.

Dichlorvos is considered to be highly toxic, which can cause difficulty in breathing, diarrhoea, vomiting, convulsions, and dizziness among others. Like many organophosphate (OP) insecticides, it also inhibits the enzyme cholinesterase, which results in disruption to the nervous and muscular system.

Vincent Isegbe, coordinating director, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) had said at the time that “all the beans farmers that are supposed to export cannot do so, and that market is closed for now which is loss of revenue for the country.”

In addressing this challenge, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state for agriculture & rural development has expressed the view that; it is a major challenge that we have at the quarantine services, and also the veterinary department, one that can only be solved by extension workers.

Extension service is considered key because these farmers need to be educated on the quantity and type of pesticides and herbicides that need to be used on the farms. What has been observed is that those who are planting are using certain chemicals (often in high proportion), while those who are storing are also using these chemicals and by the time the products get to the market, there will be excess dosage of chemical use.

The situation as Lokpobiri opined can only be solved by extension workers. The 30,000 youths being engaged under the N-Power scheme are considered a starting point in achieving this.

The federal department of extension service will also need to train a lot more people on extension services. Unless this is achieved, then it will be difficult to address the issue of excessive pesticides.

As it is considered impossible to be on every farm; it isn’t possible to regulate what farmers use, including the quantum and types of chemicals that are used on every individual farm. The immediate solution (in the absence of legislation) is by having more extension service officers interfacing with farmers across the country.
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by EDITOR

August 29, 2017 | 5:53 pm
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