Small Scale Women Farmers Association in Nigeria (SWOFON) has decried the spread of hazardous pesticides among Nigerian farmers.
The president of the Association, Mary Ishaya disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja.
According to her, Nigeria has remained a dumping ground for highly hazardous pesticides (HHP) that are banned in developed countries like Europe, and Asia among others.
Citing a survey conducted by the Association in Nasarawa, Benue, Abuja and Plateau states, Ishaya noted farmers’ increased dependence on pesticides and fertilizers for increased production.
She said, “There is a need to protect and empower small-scale women farmers with knowledge about pesticide use, ways to improve safety and motivate the need to explore alternative water-based farm methods that protect farmers, consumers and the environment.
“Farmers and farm workers should be empowered to seek justice for exposure of hazardous pesticides from their employers and pesticide promoters.
“We have recorded several losses to harmful pesticides. Many of our exports have been rejected, there is an increasing number of cancer cases and health complications which are linked to exposure of these harmful pesticides.
“NAFDAC needs to strengthen its regulation and put measures in place to ensure that these HHP phase out, stop over-the-counter sales of pesticides that are highly toxic.”
Speaking further, Ishaya called on the government to update the list of banned pesticides and make public the list of registered pesticides for informed decision making by farmers and consumers.
In her remark, assistant director at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Abey Ashaolu, noted the improper use of pesticide among farmers, stating that the agency has carried out several training programs on the right use of pesticides among farmers.
According to her, “we have always advocated the need for a safe use of pesticides by farmers. We cannot ban chemical substances outrightly but it may become necessary when they become a threat to human health.”
Amos Ishaya, principal scientific officer from the Ministry of Environment, said that there are ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of harmful chemicals in Nigeria.
He said, “Recognizing that sound management of chemicals and pesticides is vital for sustainable development and rising up to the challenge of providing its citizens with a quality environment, Nigeria though the Federal Ministry of Environment signed and ratified various multilateral environmental agreements related to sound management of chemicals, pesticides and waste.
“There are ongoing efforts to promote and coordinate a cost efficient approach to chemicals safety and management across all sectors necessary to protect the environment, human and animal health in Nigeria.”