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Slowly killing Nigerians with pesticides – Professionals

An independent Consultant on Agriculture and Rural Development, Professor, Johnson Ekpere, has warned Nigeria farmers against the use of hazardous pesticides, saying they do not increase food production rather killing Nigerians slowly.

Prof. Ekpere stated this recently in Abuja during a joint press briefing organised by Alliance for Action on Pesticides in Nigeria (AAPN) and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) to present the communique from the workshop on pesticides and human rights and dossier on registered and unregistered pesticides in the Nigerian market.

According to Ekpere, the popular assumption that pesticides increase food production is false.

He said that most of these chemicals are banned in countries that produced them and are pushed to Africa who use them unknowingly.

The Prof further stated that using these chemicals is a human right issue, and therefore enjoined all Nigerians to seek out other alternatives.

Another Professor of Agricultural Processing and Storage, Department of Agricultural, University of Agriculture, Makudi, and the National President, National Association of Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers, Professor Simon Irtwanga also called on the government to ensure that those selling harmful pesticides in Nigerian markets are held accountable for the health hazard it is causing Nigerians.

According to him, these products are dangerous for both humans and animals, and are responsible for most chronic diseases that have enormous economic, health and environmental costs on Nigerians. He therefore raised the need for legislation to protect Nigerians.

Similarly, Health Of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Dr. Nnimmo Bassey said dependence on pesticides for improved crop yield and food sufficiency comes at a cost to both the environment, health and economy especially when regulatory oversight is not properly implemented.

Bassey, who was represented by Deputy Executive Director at Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Bar. Marian Bassey-Orovwuje said, exposure to pesticides have led to various adverse effects ranging from soil and water contamination, harm to microorganisms, and to human health disorders.

He stressed that farmers therefore deserve a right to know the pesticides they are using as well as its composition to enable them to make informed choices about their exposure to such chemicals.

The National Coordinator, Alliance For Pesticides In Nigeria (AAPN), Donald Ikenna, recommended that while pesticides are important, the accompanying health hazards are very high.

He said thousands of cancer cases are being reported yearly, and over 20 million Nigerians are suffering from chronic kidney disease.

“From the surveys we have done in the past; lots of Nigerian farmers do not know how to properly apply pesticides.

“Nigerians poorly manage how these agro-chemicals are being used. Over 50% of registered pesticides in Nigeria are hazardous. Nigerian beans, and other food items are banned in the European Union due to pesticides and other safety issues, as some of these chemicals are carcinogenic, and the dossier is expected to sensitise both government, consumers, and investors alike,” he said.