…Laments poor implementation of chemical use laws
By Chioma Obinna
A Professor of Agro-Chemistry, Prof Lami Nnamonu, has decried the rejection of agricultural products from Nigeria in European and other countries due to poor use of chemicals by farmers.
Nnamonu, a senior lecturer at the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Benue State, explained that the wrong use of pesticides and preservatives by farmers stemmed from the failure of regulatory agencies from doing due diligence to all established Chemical use laws, adding that the development was costing the nation foreign exchange.
The university lecturer spoke in Port Harcourt at a one-day Capacity Building and Empowerment on the use of Chemical Substances for Vulnerable Women and Youths organised by Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria, ICCON,.and the National Assembly.
She noted that pesticide residues were recurring incidents causing food poisoning in the country, adding that misuse, abuse and wrong application of chemicals are on the rise in the country.
Nnamonu said farm products from the country have been reported to have Maximum Residue Limit, MRL, above the World Health Organiosation, WHO’s, recommendation, adding that the development was because the farmers are not monitored and educated on chemical usage.
“Whenever our produce gets there, they test them for these pesticides and they discover high level of pesticides residues. There are limits that the World Health Organisation, WHO, has set Maximum Residue Limit ,MRL, you discover that this pesticides residue in our food are higher than the MRL, and they just send them back.
“We produce a lot of Yam in Benue State and there was a franchise to export our yam to Europe and Americas but at the point of checking they discovered that our yam has pesticide residues at levels higher than the MRL.
“Government knows this. They should wake up to their responsibilities. They are interested in self, me, myself and I and nobody cares about the common good and they do not worry about what is happening in the country.
“Ghana exports all these things. They are able to comply. International market is structure with laid down rule and one does not comply they do not buy your good.”
She urged regulatory agencies and the government to address the very concern, stating that there was low level of implementation of laws and monitoring of farmers.
“We have these policies written clearly. They are there. Ranging from environmental laws, pollution laws, but our problem is implementation and monitoring. We do not implement them. They are just there. My worries are huge. And they are also denying the country of huge foreign exchange.
“There was a time some exporters wanted to take Nigeria yam and beans out of this country to get foreign exchange for our country. When the farm products were tested, they were immediately rejected.
“Let them implement and monitor the compliance of farmers because these farmers are largely uneducated, all they want is improved yields and they do not care about what the people eat but just to get bumper harvest. If the regulatory bodies are there, they will make sure that the right thing is done,” she added.
However, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of ICCON, Chemist Wilford Jwalshik, said the programme was aimed at providing accurate and reliable information to empower the participants in their quest for Chemical Safety and security among other issues.
Jwalshik, who was represented by Chemist Gonap James, noted that citizens need to informed on issues regarding chemical safety and security, adding that the world at the point is witnessing a growing concern regarding safe handling, storage and transportation of chemicals.
However, Chief Nwuche Michael, one of the participants in the training, hailed the workshop as vital, adding that the participants have been equipped with the right know on chemical safety.
Michael said: “The workshop is not only important for vulnerable women and Youths, but for everybody. As far as I am concerned, I though that I have been enjoying myself and that there some restrictions that I have to take.
“This lecture today has enlightened us that some of those chemicals we using daily are dangerous to our health and today as I am going back, I will talk to my family to be aware of Don’ts and Dos concerning usage of chemicals.”