By Ugochukwu Chimeziri
Nigeria is now a safe heaven for banned and very harmful pesticides with active ingredients called endosulfan.
According to experts, endosulfan is an organochlorine compound that is used as an
insecticide and acaricide. They said that the colourless solid has
emerged as a highly controversial agrichemical due to its acute
toxicity, potential for what they described as bioaccumulation, and role
as an endocrine disruptor. The chemical has been banned in more than 62
countries, including the European Union, several Asian and West African
nations and in the United States.
Endosulfan is also used in cowpea and cotton plantations aside cocoa and it used
to be a widely patronized agrochemical across West African. Following
banning of the chemical globally for use on agricultural crops, the
chemical has lost its agro-relevance in the other West African nations
but unscrupulous elements have chosen to trade on the chemicals to Nigeria where it is still being used due to lapses on the side of the Nigerian government to adequately enforce the ban.
“Now you see, endosulfan is also used in cowpea and cotton apart from its
usage in cocoa farms but it has been banned for all agricultural uses.
What happens is that all the endosulfan and other banned agrochemicals
across the West African coast are finding their ways into Nigeria where
regulation is weak and farmers are using these in their respective farms
raising concerns about the chemical residues that would be found in
Nigeria’s cocoa,” Mr. Akin Gbadamosi, National Chairman, National
Implementation/Enforcement Committee, Cocoa Association of Nigeria said.
He called on the government to mobilize forces to mob up stocks of these
harmful chemicals in various hidden warehouses across the nation. He
queried why foreigners such as Indians and Lebanese choose to flood Nigeria with such chemicals that were never produced in Nigeria.
In his reaction, Dr. Abdullahi Ndarubu, national secretary, Croplife, an
umbrella for registered importers of agrochemicals said that most of the
banned chemicals are smuggled into the country through new land borders
that are not yet discovered by the Nigerian Custom Service.
He said that in order to rid the nation of the harmful chemicals, Croplife
and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control
(NAFDAC) are collaborating in a campaign tagged ‘Cleanfarms’.
According to him, the move was targeted at getting information on volume, make,
brand, location, type, name of owner, condition, packaging, composition
of the obsolete pesticides in the system.
He said the campaign also is expected to educate farmers and other stakeholders on how to handle obsolete pesticides safely.
He also admitted that infiltrations are basically caused by foreigners in
the country who are not registered to the umbrella body of pesticide
Meanwhile, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) has listed 24 banned agrochemicals that are
still being used in cocoa farms in Nigeria.
According to a recent publication by CRIN, all chemicals with
endosulfan as their active ingredient are banned for use on all
CRIN however has listed chemicals with the following as their active ingredients as being
suitable for the cocoa farming industry; chlorpyrifos, thiamethoxam,
copper oxide, metalaxyl (M) +Cu0 and copper hydroxide.