NIGERIA – The Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria (AAPN) has entreated the Nigerian government to develop pesticide policy and legislation that will ensure noxious pesticides are banned and reduced in usage.

AAPN made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day documentary screening and panel discussion on pesticide double standards and improving pesticide regulation in the country.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the goal of the meeting was to terminate the double standards that exist in the global trade in pesticides active ingredients and products.

Pesticide products and active ingredients not approved in the European Union (EU) due to health or environmental concerns but exported out of EU by agrochemical corporations are allegedly sold in other regions,  including Nigeria.

The meeting also aimed to encourage sustainable agricultural practices and to seize backing conventional monoculture that furthers the dependence on hazardous pesticides and to fill gaps in regulations and management of pesticides.

In the communiqué, AAPN observed that there was no pesticide policy or legislation in Nigeria that effectively regulate the use and entry of pesticides, especially those  banned elsewhere and Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).

It said there were also large and confusing overlaps in pesticide supervision in the country between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Ministry of Environment, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), NAFDAC among others with related mandates.

“These agencies all seem to be struggling for dominance instead of working in synergy. The companies producing pesticides claim that their products are safe if they are used correctly, and marketing approval is based on the supposition of ‘safe use’.

“This statement however is very far from the reality in Nigeria and other countries of the Global South. In many cases, the necessary protective equipment is unavailable, too expensive, or impractical due to the climatic conditions. Many farmers in Nigeria are not aware of the effects,” said AAPN.

Coalition recommendations

The communiqué recommended that House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture should continually open up the space for public participation and engagement in the development of pesticide legislation.

“The committee should ensure that any legislation on pesticides is first in the interest of safeguarding the health of Nigerians and our environment, rather than maximizing the profits of agro companies.

“The National Assembly and the Presidency should approve budgetary provisions to fund the meetings of the National Chemical Management Committee to improve inter-ministerial collaborations to end the poor management of HHPs and other highly toxic chemicals across the sectors,” said AAPN.

It further recommended that government should ensure that CSOs, smallholder farmers, consumer groups, academia and organic practitioners are part of the process of developing the policy.

AAPN urged farmers’ associations and farmers’ clusters to work towards self-regulation on the pesticide usage and increase the awareness on highly hazardous pesticide brand among their members.

As indicated in the statement, farmers should have a list of pesticides that are unlikely to cause any acute hazard.

“They should encourage and demand for organic pesticides, bio-pesticides, while also supporting their members to learn more sustainable, healthy farm systems like multi-cropping systems, organic farming, agro-ecology, use of land preparation strategies and mechanical for weed control,” read the communiqué.

The communiqué was signed by Donald Ofeogbu, Coordinator of AAPN Programme Manager HBS and Chris Kaka, Coordinator AAPN Programme Manager Trade Network Initiative (TNI).

AAPN, is a Coalition of NGOs, academia and experts who seek to increase awareness and demand improved regulation of pesticides markets.

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