*Seek establishment of pesticide council
The Federal Government and other stakeholders have met to brainstorm on initiatives and strategies to flush out fake and contraband pesticides from Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
Speaking at a multi-stakeholders’ workshop on the proposed bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Pesticides Council and Other Related Matters with the theme – ‘Regulating agro-chemical production and usage through legislation’ held in Lagos today (June 24), the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, expressed the ministry’s determination to follow through with the enactment and subsequent signing into law the proposed draft bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Pesticide Council.
He said the bill would sanitize the agrochemical industry from counterfeiters with fake and contraband pesticides products which had found their way into the Nigerian markets, adding the ministry was committed to ensuring that the agrochemical being produced, distributed and marketed in the country conformed with internationally acclaimed standards.
Represented by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, Nanono pointed out that agrochemicals are widely used in Nigeria, starting from seed dressing before planting to storage, marketing and distribution of grains, stating that as a result of this huge market for agrochemicals, counterfeiters were flooding the market with massive quantities of fake and contraband pesticide products.
He added that the continuous use of these fake and contraband pesticide products had continued to pose serious dangers to both the farmers and the environment.
“The continued absence of a regulatory framework capable of providing an all – inclusive and adequate control and monitoring of the industry is unacceptable for the country. So, we are determined to follow through with the enactment and subsequent signing of the proposed bill before the National Assembly into law.
“The law will brazenly empower the ministry to sanitize the agrochemical industry through issuing appropriate licence to the genuine pesticides manufacturers, importers, sellers and distributors while expanding the revenue base of the government and boosting investors’ confidence in the industry,” he said.
While expressing delight over the earlier enactment of the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act, the minister observed that the passage of the pesticide bill into law would “unbundle the huge potentials that abounds in the industry and strengthen its capacity to make responsible contribution to the economy.”
He urged the different sector players in the industry and associations, such as the CropLife and other relevant bodies to imbibe appropriate internal mechanism as support towards addressing the general menace, adding the ministry has a dedicated cadre called produce officers for the management of agrochemical policies in the country.
Earlier, the chairman, House Committee on Agric Production and Services, Hon. Muntari Dandutse, said the bill for legislation was to enable the society to obtain the benefits of the use of pesticides and protect unreasonable effects and prevention on human beings, his environment and encourage the innovation of pesticides products.
He assured that the legislature would ensure the speedy passage of the bill, stating that it was important to have a controlled mechanism to checkmate the industry.
In his welcome address, the permanent secretary, Umakhihe, represented by the ministry’s director, farm input support services department (FISSD), Engr Tunde Bello, said the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals had generally been linked to poor productivity and massive economic losses, especially due to resistance to some of the pesticides ; destruction of beneficial soul micro-organisms leading to reduced nutrient concentration in the soul and increased water and wind erosion; loss of economic aquatic animals caused by contamination of the ground and surface water.
In his remarks, the president, CropLife Nigeria commended the ministry for being “very pragmatic by taking the bold step of pushing for a pesticide bill to address once and for all the faking and adulteration of products, handling of crop production products by unauthorized persons, smuggling of substandard products into the Nigerian market, supply of substandard and fake products by contractors to the ministry, thus shortchanging Nigerian farmers and sabotaging the efforts of the present administration in ensuring food security in the country”.
A statement signed for the ministry’s director of information by his deputy, Mrs. Ene Olotu, said other stakeholders who spoke at the workshop including representatives from NAFDAC, NESREA and SON, called for the harmonization of all related regulations and policies in the sector in order to come up with a collective draft bill that when passed into law would be implemented not only in Nigeria but also at the regional level as Nigeria is known to drive the process at that level.