The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it has commenced nationwide training of its staff to sensitise farmers and grain merchants on the health implications of wrong application of agrochemicals.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, said this in a statement in Abuja on Saturday.
Adeyeye said that NAFDAC was also working closely with all relevant stakeholders, including Croplife Nigeria, to intensify this awareness campaign.
She explained that a National Food Safety Stakeholders Workshop was also organised recently by NAFDAC to discuss and agree on possible measures to address the problem.
“When you notice your grains/beans have traces of agrochemical, please do not buy or eat it.
“The general public is hereby assured that efforts are on-going to address the problem; however, consumers are advised to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the nearest NAFDAC Office.
“Protect your family from consuming beans contaminated with sniper and other agrochemicals, wash your grains in several rinses of water before cooking: it is safer than just cooking without washing.
“NAFDAC has noticed the dangerous practice of wrong application (direct spraying, mixing and sprinkling on beans and other grains) of agrochemicals such as Dichlorvos 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate also known as DDVP.
“These chemicals are used for storage and preservation of agricultural commodities by unauthorised persons,” she said.
According to her, Dichlorvos is widely used as an insecticide to control household pests, and protecting stored product from insects when used according to manufacturer’s specifications and is approved by NAFDAC (as SNIPER) for this purpose.
However, she advised that agrochemical should be properly applied with caution and good understanding, such that they do not come into direct contact with the agricultural commodity.
“This is to prevent contamination of such food products, which could constitute danger to public health and to avoid skin exposure, wear overalls made of tight fabric or polyvinyl chloride, gloves, rubber boots (some forms of rubber are attacked by dichlorvos), and a face shield or splash-proof goggles.
“To avoid inhalation wear a full face-mask supplied-air respirator or self-contained breathing apparatus. Clothing that becomes contaminated with dichlorvos should be promptly removed and any contaminated skin immediately washed with soap and water.
“Protect from exposure persons under 18 years of age, expectant or nursing mothers, alcoholics, or those having diseases of the CNS, respiratory system, liver, kidney or eyes.
“Ingestion of food contaminated by such agrochemicals can result in severe health conditions.
“Those conditions include skin irritation, blindness, seizures, vomiting, diarrhoea, cancer and at high concentrations, convulsions, coma and even death,” the statement read in part.