By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
Nigerian Women Farmers, on the platform of the Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria( SWOFON), have called on the Nigerian government to remove pesticides in the categories of extremely and Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP) from their programmes.
This according to the Group is because pesticides are dangerous to farmers, farm workers, and food consumers, noting that pesticides can enter the body through the skin( contact) mouth( injection), and lungs inhalation.
The Group also called on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) to update its lists of banned pesticides while urging them to make public the list of registered pesticides for an informed decision by farmers and consumers.
SWOFON in its report stated that 7 of the 13 active ingredients (53%) in pesticides brands used by the surveyed Smallholder Women are cancer-causing, these include Atrazine, Butachlor, Chlorpyrifos, Dichlorvos (DDVP), Endosulfan, Glysophate and Mancozeb
President of the Association, Mrs. Mary Ishaya made the call while briefing Newsmen and presenting the findings of a report titled ‘Pesticide Use Among Small-Scale Women Farmers in Nigeria, a Sample of the Four States, sponsored by Heinrich Boll Stiftung, and Alliance for action on Pesticide in Nigeria
SWOFON called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), and Bank of Industry( BOI) to check and mandate agrochemicals dealers in their anchor borrowers programme to remove all HHPs from their programmes and encourage them to supply more organic inputs such as Biopesticides, organic fertilisers among others
This is even as the group noted that the agency’s current data on registered products is cumbersome, hard to navigate, has restricted filter features, and does not allow detailed access to the spreadsheet.
The Group in its findings noted that 94.2% of the surveyed women farmers use synthetic chemical pesticides to manage pest issues in their farms, it also revealed that 85% of the small-scale women farmers do not use any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), adding that some products have already been banned in Nigeria but are nonetheless available in the market.
Other findings also revealed that 75% of the women farmers surveyed who use chemical pesticides have experienced some health challenges that they attributed to the use of pesticides noting that according to the Global Cancer Observatory, Nigeria has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the world, with 4 out of 5 cases resulting in death.
According to Mrs. Ishaya NAFDAC needs to put regulations in place to ensure that HHPs are phased out, and needs to put in place stricter sanctions and penalties for persons and corporate bodies who contravene the Pesticide Regulations 2019.
SWOFON said the survey was informed by five major factors including the need for farmers and government to ensure increased food production, the increasing dependence on synthetic agrochemicals in an attempt to increase yield, and the continued double standards by developed countries in the European Union among others.
Meanwhile reacting to the Report, Assistant Director, of NAFDAC, Mrs. Abey Ashaolu said “Just because there is a ban on the use of certain pesticides by the European Union does not mean it should be banned in Nigeria, noting that there are health issues related to the use of certain pesticides, researches can be done”.
She stated that the reason why the EU rejects Nigeria’s agricultural products is a result of the maximum residue units found in its products.
However, stakeholders present were of the view that due to the poor literacy level of smallholder farmers, there was a need to ban such products and begin to focus on the local use of