The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has once again reaffirmed its ban on the use of certain hazardous pesticides in Nigeria, citing the harmful effects they pose to humans, animals, beneficial insects, and the environment.
In a press release signed by its Director General, Professor Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, FAS, the management of NAFDAC emphasized the dangers posed by these pesticides, and called for the cooperation of the public and relevant stakeholders in their efforts to rid the nation of them.
The ban on hazardous pesticides has been a long-standing issue in Nigeria, with stakeholders expressing concerns over the use of pesticides that have been banned in other countries. One such report was conducted by Heinrich Boll Foundation, a non-governmental organization that claimed that 40% of pesticides used in Nigeria had been banned in the European Union (EU).
There was also an alert received from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) cautioning on the possibility that the EU and United Kingdom (UK) were exporting banned Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Nigeria and other poorer countries. This raised concerns over the effects of these hazardous pesticides on food safety and food security.
NAFDAC has placed emphasis on Chlorpyrifos and its variants due to their harmful effects. During her first term as the Director General of NAFDAC, Adeyeye gave a directive to review and analyze the list of registered pesticides and agrochemical active ingredients in the agency’s Registered Product Automated Database (NARPAD) vis-à-vis actives banned, non-approved or restricted in the European Union, other countries or by relevant international organizations.
This led to several meetings with stakeholders, and in November 2022, timelines were set for the phase-out ban of the various pesticides. The outcome of the review of NAFDAC’s database for the pesticides was shared with stakeholders at a three-day virtual stakeholder engagement held on the 22nd, 24th, and 29th of November 2022. The engagement focused on the proposed phase-out/ban of these active ingredients and had in attendance, proponents of marketing authorizations, non-governmental organizations, associations (All Farmers Association of Nigeria, CropLife Nigeria, Nigeria Agro-Input Dealers Association, etc.), Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), research institutes, among others.
Pesticides are used both indoors and outdoors for the management of pests, vector-borne diseases, and for crop protection. They are sometimes impregnated in textiles, paints, carpets, and treated wood to control pests and fungi. However, the toxicity associated with the misuse and abuse of pesticides is worrisome as it affects food safety and food security. The toxicity of pesticides is managed through stringent regulatory activities to reduce severe health implications on humans, crops, and the environment.
“The mandate of NAFDAC as established by Act Cap N1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 is to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale, and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water, detergents, and chemicals (referred to as regulated products). Safeguarding the health of the nation is paramount to the Agency,” NAFDAC wrote.
NAFDAC has always maintained its commitment to ensuring that Nigerians have access to safe and effective products, and this commitment extends to the regulation of hazardous pesticides. The Agency is aware of the importance of pesticides in crop protection and the control of pests and vector-borne diseases but stresses that their use should be regulated to prevent adverse effects on human health and the environment.
The agency urged members of the public to report any suspicious activities or incidents relating to the use of banned pesticides to the nearest NAFDAC office for prompt action. NAFDAC’s reaffirmation of its ban on hazardous pesticides and its efforts to protect the health of Nigerians are commendable and should be supported by all relevant stakeholders. It is essential to prioritize the safety of food, crops, and the environment in the use of pesticides to ensure the sustainability of agriculture and public health in Nigeria.