Women who used the products reported health problems and a new report wants the government to regulate the chemicals.
About 80 per cent of pesticides used by women in parts of Nigeria's North-central region are highly toxic to humans and require additional regulation, a new survey has found. In many instances, the products had been banned in Europe and other places.
The survey by Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria and Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria found that 80 per cent of the products are classified as Highly Hazardous Pesticides.
The survey, supported by the German green organisation, Heinrich Böll Foundation, was conducted in Nasarawa, Benue, Abuja and Plateau, and involved 107 women farmers.
The pesticides found are atrazine, butachlor, carbofuran, cypermethrin, dichlorvos (ddvp), endosulfan, glysulphate, imidacloprid, mancozeb, paraquat, profenofos and triazophos.
"The survey results among the interviewed women farmers show that over 80% of the pesticides products and their active ingredients in use belong to the category of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), and in many instances have lost approval in countries and regions with high safety standards such as the European Union (EU)," the report said.
A similar report by AAPN in 2021 found that 40 per cent of all the pesticides used in Nigeria had been banned by the EU due to their high toxicity.
The new survey set out to ascertain the pest challenges that confront farmers, and to know the products they use to address the problem, as well as their knowledge of traditional nature-based pest control methods.
"94.2 per cent of the surveyed women farmers use synthetic chemical pesticides to manage pest issues in their farms. 5.8 per cent do not use any synthetic chemical pesticide products to tackle pest challenges," it said.
It found that 75 per cent of the women who used chemical pesticides experienced health challenges that they attributed to the pesticide use.
According to the report, some of the symptoms identified by the surveyed women were difficulty in breathing, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, eye problems, skin rashes, catarrh, diarrhoea, and respiratory problems were among the most common health effects reported.
Call for regulation
In a bid to provide a solution, SWOFON urged the Nigerian government to develop strategies regulating the use of pesticides for food production. The group pleaded for a national pesticide control law and an amendment to the NAFDAC Act.
"An amendment of the NAFDAC act should give NAFDAC the power to immediately ban, suspend, revoke, and recall any registered pesticide product with an active ingredient proven to be highly hazardous to human lives, especially those banned internationally," the group said in the survey.
"There is a need for NAFDAC to introduce toxicity colour codes on pesticide products (aside from the usual labels) in Sections 9 and 10 of the NAFDAC Pesticide Registration Regulation of 2019," it added.
The president of SWOFON, Mary Ishaya, advised other farmers' associations to provide measures for self-regulation on pesticide use and trade in the country.
This she said will ensure that highly hazardous pesticides banned locally and internationally are not used, promoted or sold in Nigeria.