In view of the recent death occurrence in Nigeria which was traced down to exposure to pesticides, the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAPP) has unveiled revelations from the Baseline studies that were carried out in nine states on the present status of the use, registration and regulation of pesticides in Nigeria.
Giving highlights on the findings from the study carried out, National Coordinator of the World Bank assisted programme in Nigeria, Prof. Damian Chikwendu, disclosed Nigeria as a home to uncontrolled market of outdated, sub-standard and unscrupulous pesticides, which he said are mostly peddled and used by people with no real expertise on them.
Of a total of 360 farmers that were interviewed in 57 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the nine states (Abia, Benue, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Niger and Oyo), the WAPP-Nigeria National Coordinator disclosed that about 92 per cent of them admit to the use of pesticides at varying proportion across the states.
This, however, comes with a worrying trend, as Prof. Chikwendu said, “One noticeable trend is that most of the people who sell and use these pesticides have little knowledge of them. They don’t even know how to use”
Citing records from the result of the studies, he stated that not less than 74 per cent of the farmers purchased their pesticides from the open markets, disclosing also that only a paltry 8-12 per cent of them obtain theirs from farmer groups and cooperatives, government agencies, and NGOs.
On how the pesticides are used, he said, “The result found that most of the applications were done by the farmers themselves, while a smaller fraction of them employ the services of hired applicators and farmers’ family members, respectively who using knapsack sprayer.”
A major finding from the study, as published on the WAPP-Nigeria website, shows that, “Across the nine states, 72 per cent of the farmers use pesticides to protect stored primary farm produce from storage pests,” in which case Prof. Chikwendu has raised alert of serious health consequences.
“These days we hear of cancers and all manners of health conditions, So many of these are related to the poor use of chemicals like pesticides. Many farmers use these chemicals to protect their beans and other crops, and the effects are obvious.”
On the level of impact trainings have had on handling of pesticides, the study found that, across the states, 49 per cent of farmers received training on the safe and effective use of pesticides, with some relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) giving advice with recommendations on synthetic pesticides to farmers for control of pests and diseases in their zones.
However, it was found that only about 8 per cent of the MDAs were aware of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of pesticides by hazards.
Speaking on why pesticide have been grossly handled wrongly in Nigeria, Prof. Chikwendu said, “Although, the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) is actively involved in ensuring safe use and management of pesticides, in Nigeria, its major function of enforcing the regulation on pesticide use has been greatly hindered by the absence of a national pesticide legislation.”
Meanwhile, as a way forward, the consultants involved in the studies have made seven major recommendations.
They recommend that farmers should store pesticides in locked specially designated stores away from residential areas and out of reach of children and unauthorized persons.
They have also recommended strongly that farmers must always dispose used or empty containers of pesticides as directed on the label. On occasions where no labels are provided, they advise that the containers should be punctured or shredded, burnt or deep buried in soil.
“Alternatively, such containers or packages can be returned to the agrodealers who will dispose of them in special disposal sites,” the study recommends, adding that, “On no account should use pesticide containers be sold to the public.”