The Federal Government has disclosed that Nigeria is spending almost N140 billion ($400 million) yearly to import different chemicals for agriculture to prevent post-harvest losses. The Director of Research Operation at the Federal Government- led Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Dr. Olayemi Folorunsho, disclosed this to this newspaper in an interview, saying that importers invested $400 million yearly on chemical imports to prevent residual effects on crops, especially to protect durable crops from being infected by pests and insects.
According to him, the importation of the chemicals is to save the country’s food produc-tion since about 45 per cent of food waste are lost to post-harvest losses in Nigeria. Folorunsho, in the interview, however, cautioned that the use of chemicals in prevention in the country had high risk of health challenges amid the hazardous application on the crops. Following this, the NSPRI’s director of research operation explained that Nigerian farmers needed to explore alternative avenues for the country’s food storage and reserve rather than depending on chemicals, which are sometimes dangerous to human health.
He noted that recent research output from NSPRI had revealed that 50 per cent of the grains consumed in the country are stored at household level in which the majority of them (farmers) don’t have the knowledge on how these chemicals are being used.
In order to arrest food wastage and secure post-harvest loss of consumers at this level, the agric expert said that NSPRI had developed hermistic study structure for households on food preserve. He added that this application had enabled for tested pesticides application and improved food safety and livelihood of the consumers.
Folorunsho said: “We spend almost $400 million to import chemicals into this country. If 25 per cent of our crops can be stored without chemicals you know the financial gains to the country.
“Durable crops are stable foods consume by almost everybody in the sub-Saharan Africa on a daily basis. If you look today majority of us have taking stable foods either rice, bean, cornflakes or something that is been produced that is dry.
And we need to sustain and made them available for us to secure food security. “And we have discovered that 100 per cent of this food may be lost if insect damage is not prevented. And this is usually being done by chemicals and pesticides.
“In order to reduce this losses, grain handlers almost preventively use chemicals without considering the deep hazadous of the chemicals application on the crops. Chemical application pose a great effect to safety in this our region. And the public gain by using pesticide to protect bean is navigated when associated with health problems are considered.
“You just see that most times so numbers of majority of people died of what they consumed like grains. “Apart from the high cost of pesticides, improper pesticides use has also cost millions of people to become ill in Nigeria. And the food that we think is good for our health, majority of times, they were used to kill borers due to the use of chemicals. “Grains that are assume to be healthier as become a real hazards due to this chemical mis- application.
Inadequate extension services on application of chemicals is not also adequate. And the rules and regulations guiding the use of chemicals neither exist nor enforced. And we have in our means importation of ban toxic chemicals and non compliance with major market standard as testify by the manufacturers.”