The Director of Heinrich Boll Foundation Nigeria, Mr. Jochen Luckscheiter, has urged farmers to exercise caution when administering pesticides to crops for healthy living and to help save the environment.
Luckscheiter made the call at a Two-Day Engagement Workshop of Social Media Influencers/Journalists on the Nigeria Pesticide Atlas at an agroforestry Project farm in Kwali, FCT.
The director said the essence of the workshop was to increase public awareness of the impact of the high use of toxic pesticides by farmers in the agricultural sector.
He said pesticides were designed to prevent yield losses in the farming systems, but it also gives rise to new problems in health and soil degradation which was harmful to the ecosystem.
“The idea is to reduce the use of pesticides and farm more relying on organic input as the use of pesticides over the years in Nigeria has not necessarily increased productivity.
“You can increase crop productivity without using pesticides and artificial fertilizer.
“There is lots of knowledge out there that doesn’t rely on artificial input to increase productivity,” he said.
According to him, a significant number of pesticides are no longer authorized or are banned in the European Union (EU) due to their harmful effects on health and the ecosystem.
However, he cautioned farmers on the safe use of pesticides, stressing that it was highly dangerous to health, though it was aimed at empowering workers on farm production while in active service.
The Executive Director of Chen Education and Development Empowerment (CEDE), Anaele Cynthia, said there was a need to enlighten Nigerians on the dangerous effect of hazardous pesticides imported into the country.
Cynthia said the toxic chemical contents in pesticides had increased from four to 40 percent with adverse effects on the soil and environment.
According to her, there is a need to enact stiffer laws to prohibit the use of toxic and hazardous pesticides by farmers to ensure healthy living and a safer farming system in the country.
She stressed the need for the government and stakeholders to be concerned about the health of farmers, saying, “Pesticides may cause acute and variety of adverse health effects.”
She said that the workshop was aimed at sensitizing participants on the need to draw the public’s attention to toxic pesticides and what could be done to regulate pesticides and alternative usage.
The Chief Executive/Chief Farmer of Be The Help Foundation Agroforestry Project, Mr. Samuel Robert-Kwasari, said there was a need to stop the use of pesticides and revert to the traditional system of farming.
Robert-Kwasari said as farmers struggle to fight the pests, it has emerged that some pesticides are not effective, while other crops suffer adverse effects and soil degradation on the farm.
He said that agriculturalists were also being asked not to spray during a high wind as the chemicals might blow on the person carrying out the spraying.