Heightened use of toxic pesticides threatens consumers’ health in Nigeria

NIGERIA – According to a survey by the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization of Nigeria and the Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria, 80% of the pesticides used by women in some areas of the North Central region are highly toxic to humans and need additional regulation, making them Highly Hazardous Pesticides.

The survey, which was funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a German environmental organization, involved 107 women farmers in the states of Nasarawa, Benue, Abuja, and Plateau.

Atrazine, butachlor, carbofuran, cypermethrin, dichlorvos (ddvp), endosulfan, glysulfan, imidacloprid, mancozeb, paraquat, profenofos, and triazophos are among the pesticides discovered.

“The survey results among the interviewed women farmers show that over 80 percent of the pesticides products and their active ingredients in use belong to the category of HHPs, and in many instances have lost approval in countries and regions with high safety standards such as the EU,” the report said.

The development, which stakeholders and health professionals have labeled as worrying, has increased the risk of consuming farm products because a significant number of diseases have been related to it.

According to reports, this problem can cause a variety of symptoms, including breathing difficulties, headaches, nausea, vomiting, eye problems, skin rashes, catarrh, diarrhea, and respiratory issues.

Unfortunately, some experts assert that most farmers who like applying these pesticides are unaware of the long-term effects, and some farmers who don’t always wear the necessary personal protective equipment (PPEs) during pesticide application have experienced harmful effects.

Mr. Taiwo Oduola, a former national public relations officer for the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN), claimed that the adverse effects of chemical use have contributed to the occurrence of terminal illnesses.

“The developing countries that initiated the use of the chemicals are now rejecting our farm yields. The use of urea NPK, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and others have been discovered by scientists to release toxins into the ecosystem.

“What some of the farmers have forgotten is the fact that farm wastes are good enough to serve as manure to build up the fertility of the soil without the use of fertilizer,” he said.

Toxic pesticides mar country’s export market

Adeola Dacosta, an exporter of agricultural products, decried the situation and accused the Federal Government and regulatory bodies of neglecting to carry out the required tests on the agricultural chemicals.

“The implication of the banned chemicals goes beyond the consumption of farm produce. Whenever rain falls and washes the chemicals to any river, it will kill all the creatures in the water and whoever drinks the water might die of poisoning,” he said.

According to Dacosta, the Federal Government needs to develop strategies to regulate the use of pesticides for food production.

“There is a need for a national pesticide control law and an amendment to the National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Act.

“An amendment of the NAFDAC act should give the agency power to immediately ban, suspend, revoke, and recall any registered pesticide product with an active ingredient proven to be highly hazardous to human lives, especially those banned internationally,” he said.

According to NAFDAC, over 76% of Nigeria’s exported agricultural products are frequently rejected by the European Union (EU) because they don’t adhere to the necessary requirements.

In addition to the annual losses experienced by farmers and exporters, which amount to several million naira, the situation has damaged the country’s reputation because her agricultural products are today much less popular abroad.

“The survey results among the interviewed women farmers show that over 80 percent of the pesticides products and their active ingredients in use belong to the category of HHPs, and in many instances have lost approval in countries and regions with high safety standards such as the EU."

In Benue State in 2020, an unidentified illness claimed at least 270 lives. It was subsequently determined that they had been poisoned by banned pesticides in a nearby river.

According to a recent study, almost 40% of all pesticides used in the country are hazardous compounds that are either outlawed or severely regulated in European markets.

Based on research done in the states of Kano, Oyo, Ebonyi, and Benue, the Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria’s report found that 40% of the 402 products still in use in the nation contain 57 active ingredients.

Many of these products are in the category of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), which are particularly hazardous to human health, animals, and the environment.

The report states that 63 registered items are mutagenic, 47 are endocrine disruptors, and 25 registered products have been shown to be carcinogenic. Additionally, 224 items clearly affect reproduction, and 262 products exhibit neurotoxicity, reports The Guardian.

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