Following a recent claim by the Executive Director of the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Prof Olufemi Peters that Nigerian farmers and agro-based companies spend USD400 million annually on pesticides, Daily Trust examines the situation and discusses with experts on possible alternatives as to how the country can be self-reliant on pesticide formulation to meet up Nigerian farmers’ demand.
Against this backdrop, Prof Olufemi noted that the institute has developed a safe, effective storage pesticide known as ‘NSPRI-dust’, which could be used to store grains. The grains include maize, sorghum, paddy rice and wheat which could be stored for up to 24 to 48 months, while cowpea (beans) could be stored for up to 36 months.
Although the product is yet to be commercialised, it has been already adopted by some institutions, markets and other interested persons.
Professor Mohammed Faguci Ishaku of the Ahmadu Bello University’s Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria was quoted as saying Nigeria could save up to N16 billion on growing maruca resistant cowpea alone, the cost that would have otherwise been spent on buying pesticides.
He said this at the sensitisation workshop for the Nigerian Seed Industry on genetically modified seeds held at the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).
The plant breeder explained that with genetically modified cowpea seeds, every farmer will have a 20% yield advantage over conventional seeds per hectare, which would translate to N48 billion at the rate of N120, 000 per tonne.
Prof Faguci noted that with this, Nigerian farmers would also be saved from consuming or inhaling toxins from excessive use of chemicals by spraying.
Meanwhile, Prof Ayodele Adebisi of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Ogun state pointed out that the only way Nigeria can cut importation of pesticide is by having indigenous companies to manufacture pesticides in all the geo-political zones of the country.
He advised that Government engage in capacity building of researchers so they can come back and establish local industries that will strengthen Nigeria’s capability of both organic and inorganic pesticide formulations which would ensure that the country saves foreign exchange that would’ve been otherwise spent on importation.
Prof Adebisi lamented that no research institute has the mandate for pesticide formulation, but rather the Crop Protection departments in Universities which he said have great synergy with industries but with little significant contribution to the sector’s development.
The Professor explained that although neem and cashew extracts are very efficacious in protecting food, the formulations are not properly packaged in a way that will be available to farmers.
“We need packaging, we need industries that will make them readily in the market for farmers to use,” he said.
He charged the Nigerian government to create a pesticide research institute which would be pivotal in building capacity, useful to farmers and for food security of the country instead of depending on importation from other countries.
Although Nigeria is estimated to have over 100 million neem trees, the country loses an estimated 12.5 billion USD annually by not harnessing the neem oil among several other neem products.
Dr Abdullahi Ahmed Yar’adua, formerly a lecturer at the Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic stated that bio-pesticides made from natural ingredients are user and environmentally friendly, adding that because of the abundance of neem in the country, harnessing the potential of neem bio-pesticides as a home-based technology would be at little or no cost to farmers.
The expert pointed out that neem is pesticidal in nature and rich in compounds that are effective against several insects, fungi, bacteria, nematodes among others, in addition to control of striga, a noxious weed known locally as ‘wuta-wuta’ in Hausa.
The neem processing plant at Katsina constructed by the Obasanjo administration was left to rot away until it was finally sold out to a foreign company with little or no significant production till date.
Another Don at the Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Prof Salihu Dadari lamented that Nigerian markets and borders are very porous which allows sub-standard products to make way into the country.
Prof Dadari hinted that the USD400 million allegedly spent on pesticides by farmers and agro-allied industries could be an underestimation because people bring all sorts of pesticides in to the country through the border of Niger, Benin Republic, Chad and Cameroun.
“If you enter our market now, you will see all forms of pesticides; insecticides, nematicides, fungicides, some are of low quality, some are of high quality.The Paraquat chemical for example has carcinogenic compounds but you see it all over the country and it has been banned in many countries.”
“You know they have to control insect in cowpea and all the horticultural crops but all these things have side effect many people have kidney problem, many people are diabetic patients and even cancer, all these things are associated with these pesticides,” he said.
He noted that although the alternative could be organic pesticides, such products are still at infancy level and not adequate enough.
Prof Dadari blamed the poor state of Nigerian legal and judicial system for the illegal importation of all sorts of agro-chemicals into the country. He said perpetrators of such act need to be tried and brought to book to serve as deterrent to other erring individuals.
He charged Government to look inwards and have a functional research framework that would financially support researchers to look into the various beneficial herbs suitable for pesticide formulation, adding that through partnerships, the issue of funding of research could be effectively dealt with to ensure continuity of the project.
Again, Prof Dadari stressed on the need for the country to have a functional legal and judicial system, authenticate the legal procedures and people that are found wanting should be brought to book and punished accordingly.
“Nigeria has to re-orientate her law and order, our problem is very big we have to follow law and order of the land but we are not following it. Also the problem with our judiciary system, if you give them money you are gone so they don’t implement the laws of the land,” he said.
Are coming in so anybody can bring anything here sell and make money, most of them are impure while some are polluted and with that the children carry …. People have been seen wrongly they normally inhaled them , by the time you apply them a bite culture, controller eye something so some get excess and this excess you will not know on till after some years and the old is two years most of this product have been banned in some advance country they have stop using them, they are common in Nigeria they are killing them self indirectly, so the issues is that all these diseases we have are associated with these chemicals like this rice we call foreign rice they have been stored with chemicals for 10 years more than 10years because they have to control insects and when they bring them to Nigeria we see our women and men who are ignorant we say I want foreign rice all this things are dangerous to us plus the carryover pesticides in the field.
But the current Customs boss Hameed Ali is trying to bring in some sanity, so he has already arrested some of them and they know he can pursue them up to the court but the issue is that they would be bailed.
So everything we are doing is already polluted with these chemicals. So the figures he gave were even under estimated because in every village you go you see chemicals, some are of poor quality, others are not.
So we cannot develop under false pretext, there has to be law and order. Because of the fragmentation of our legal system, that is why you see this kind of proliferation.