Sixty-five percent of pesticides used by farmers in Africa’s biggest economy on their farmlands are hazardous, a European report has said.
Nigeria ranked highest among six other countries that had their pesticides reviewed for levels of harmful residues, according to the report put together by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Friend of the Earth Europe, and Pesticides Action Network.
“In 2021, 65 percent of all pesticides used in four states of Nigeria were highly hazardous,” the report stated.
The report noted that bean samples from Nigeria showed high levels of contamination, containing up to 0.3 milligrams per kilogram of dichlorvos. In contrast, the legal limit in Europe is 0.01 milligrams.
Since 2015 till date, the European Union’s ban on Nigerian beans has remained, on account of containing a high level of pesticide considered harmful to health.
“Dichlorvos can cause difficulties breathing, diarrhoea, and vomiting among other effects,” the report titled ‘Pesticide Atlas – Facts and Figures About Toxic Chemicals in Agriculture’ stated.
The report found that elevated levels of pesticide residues were also detected in Nigeria’s tomato samples, including traces of permethrin.
According to the report, the US Environmental Protection Agency classified “permethrin” insecticide as “probably carcinogenic” – capable of causing cancer.
Generally, Nigeria’s foods have over the years been found to be containing pesticides in high percentages, considered highly hazardous, and this remains the strongest point for the rejection of Nigeria’s foods in the international market.
This is in line with Mojisola Adeyeye, director general of NAFDAC public lamentation last month, that over 70 percent of food exports from Nigeria are rejected abroad, with huge financial losses to exporters and the country.
In Africa likewise, the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent, pesticide use jumped by 67.8 percent in 2020 from 1999, despite regulations.
According to Adeyeye, there is a need for more enhanced regulation of export packaging, pre-shipment testing, and certification, to provide quality assurance and minimise rejects, and has called on all stakeholders in export trade to see the plague as a call to duty and collaborate with NAFDAC.
In response to this, Osita Aboloma, chairman/chief executive of the National Quality Council (NQC), announced in Abuja a few days back that the federal government has established the NQC as part of efforts to tackle and mitigate the persistent rejections of Nigeria’s export products in the international market “which has now become an emergency.”
Experts suggest a proper and wholesome process of supervision across the entire value chain (from farmers to export markets) in order “to get the ban on our beans lifted and pave the way for admitting Nigeria produce for export.”
Though the EU has reacted to the elevated residue levels and issued an import ban on beans from Nigeria, it said in its report that, “timely and sufficient support for non-chemical plant protection practices can prevent such exclusions from the EU market.”