Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Monday, in collaboration with stakeholders in the agricultural sector, brainstormed on how to combat the use of harmful chemicals to preserve foodstuffs.
The initiative came imminent following an online video which went viral on the social media showing a man spreading Sniper, a chemical meant to kill rodents as a preservative chemicals on beans.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who disclosed the plan at a stakeholder’s meeting, in Abuja, said such an act could wipe out an entire community due to ignorance.
Ogbeh explained that the Federal Government would embark on an aggressive sensitisation campaign across the country to discourage such habit.
According to him, “There are people who use carbide to ripen mangoes and bananas. They use aluminum phosphate to control weevils in beans.
“We have challenges in preserving chicken which has led to people smuggling injected chickens into the country which look nice.
“Even when they are seized and buried by the Nigerian Customs, people still dig them out and eat.
“We have to develop a very strong strategic committee for reaching farmers, buyers and sellers on the dangers.
“I hear that people use a chemical meant to kill mosquitoes to drive away flies from fish, principally because they don’t know the health implications.
“We have to device a means to collectively tackle it. No human being is safe in such an environment like this.
“When they cook the beans you don’t know where it comes from. And some people even use cow dung to smoke the fish.
“We must begin to spread the information as fast as possible.”
On his part, the Coordinating Director of Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) Dr. Vincent Isegbe, disclosed that the problem could be tackled with the implementation of a National Pesticides Policy, which he said the agency is currently working on.
“It is a painful reflection as a country. It is something that we need to address. The problem is that we do not have the national pesticides policy.
“In developed countries, people won’t be allowed to sell such things without the policy guiding them,” he added.