By Usman Aliyu
Mr Chris Kaka, National Programme Coordinator, Trade Network Initiative (TNI) on Tuesday asserted that 65 per cent of pesticides used by farmers in Nigeria were dangerous to human health, animals and the environment.
He said they contained active ingredients belonging to the group of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), at the opening of a two-day Training and Strategic Planning Meeting on Pesticide Use and Regulation in Nigeria themed: ”Making the Advocacy Work” in Abuja.
The event which was convened by Alliance for Action on Pesticides in Nigeria (AAPN), saw the coordinator noting that 40 per cent of all the pesticide products registered in the country had since been withdrawn from the European market or heavily restricted due to their hazardous contents.
This 40 per cent, he said represented 57 active ingredients in 402 products still in use in the country.
Kaka regretted that no serious regulation was in place to check the arbitrary use of these products among farmers.
This, he said informed the formation of the alliance so as to bring stakeholders together to share knowledge and engage government on how to address the challenge.
The coalition sought to increase awareness on pesticide hazards, demands for improved regulation of the pesticides and promoting the introduction of more sustainable farm methods and food systems.
In order to strengthen its advocacy, AAPN sought to come together to organise a training to improve its members’ knowledge about pesticide use and regulation, to share experiences from their individual work and to build synergy and explore new avenues for advocacy.
“Many farmers are not even aware of this danger and we believe there is need for awareness to be created around this,” he said.
In her presentation, Ms Silke Bollmohr, an eco-toxicologist stressed the need to always ensure less toxicant pesticides are brought to agriculture.
Bollmohr, who is a trainer in Risk Assessment of Pesticides, enumerated the effects of hazardous pesticides on human life, soil and water quality.
Nigerians, she explained, were more exposed to these hazards because communities and residents are closer to farms than in the western world.
She urged farmers to always check information label, saying that the labels contain vital information of chemical compositions of pesticides.
She also cautioned farmers against the use of same herbicides, fungicides and insecticides over a long period, advising them on use of biopesticides in between.