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Hidden danger posed by herbicides, pesticides to health, environment

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• Let Everybody Adopt Natural Way Of Farming — Oduola
• Lack Of Training Responsible — Alonge
• It Destroys Yields — Aubee

Many farmers have adopted the use of chemicals to keep weeds and pests away from their farms. Even though some chemicals add more nutrients to the soil, majority of farmers are unaware that the chemicals also constitute danger to human health.
  
There are three different kinds of pesticides — herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. These pesticides are used to kill different kinds of pests that are found on the farm in addition to increase yields. Meanwhile, the chemicals pose hidden dangers to people, animals and the environment.

While herbicides help to increase the food supply and boost the economy, they also contribute to pollution and ill health, ranging from skin irritation to cancer.

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According to ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region, Arbind K. Choudhary, the global herbicides market, estimated at $27.21b in 2016, is now projected to reach $39.15b by 2022, according to a CAGR forecast.

The European Union (EU) that rejected, in the past some farm produce from Nigeria, cited high pesticides used to preserve those items as one of the reasons.
 
For instance, the Nigerian banned beans, which EU banned three years ago, were found to contain between 0.03mg kilogrammes to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos (pesticides) contrary to acceptable limits.
 
The National Public Relations Officer, Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN), Mr. Taiwo Oduola, who regretted the negative implication of the chemical usage by farmers, said the developing countries that initiated the use of the chemicals are now rejecting farm yields from the country.

He said: “In the olden days, our forefathers produce crops naturally. They move from one land to another when the land is not okay within the spate of three to five years, which we refer to as shifting cultivation. We use vegetation and botanicals around us as our pesticide.

“But with the advent of development, they believe the population is increasing and after the second World War, they believe that the only way to cater for food for the teeming population is to use those remnants of World War artilleries into the production of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, we started using it because it aids high yields, they call it green revolution and that is how we adopted it and started using fertilizers, pesticide, herbicides, which are strange to our environment and land.”

He noted that the usage of urea NPK, synthetic pesticides, herbicides and others have been discovered by scientists to have created toxic into the ecosystem, adding that farm wastes are good enough to serve as manure to build up the fertility of the soil without the use of fertiliser.

Oduola said the use of the chemicals cannot stop. “It will not be totally stopped, it depends on choice — choice of consumers and choice of the farmer. Farmers using these synthetic herbicides and pesticides are also breathing in such chemicals, so they also have their own health problems. Those who consume the yield will have some level of health implications. If they have already gotten one, it worsens it. The point now is that let everybody adopt natural way of farming.”

An Agricultural Technologist, Teaching and Research Farm, University of Ibadan, Mrs. Oyetoun Alonge, identified lack of training on the appropriate on use of herbicides, pesticides and other synthetic materials on farming as responsible for the problem.

“Majority of the farmers doesn’t care about the health implication of the chemicals because of their profit. Excessive use of these chemicals has detrimental effect on the health of people consuming the farm produce. It is not just about those that are consuming alone, it affects our environment, it affects the users.

“I think our farmers need more training and if possible we should just avoid the use of these chemicals totally because it is better for us to go organic like our forefathers did, than adopting the use of these chemicals on our farms. That is why our produce are being rejected,” she said.

Alonge said if farmers grow organically or as naturally as possible the country’s produce will no longer be rejected in international market. “Everybody wants to leave a better life, but want a life that’ll be free of health challenges like cancer among others in the world now. And for us to achieve that, we have to cut everything that is detrimental to our health.”

On his part, the Head Agriculture Division, ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Ernest Aubee attributed excessive use of the chemicals to the reduction of crop production and productivity in Nigeria and other African countries. 
 

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Aubee said the global food production system has broken as the very base of agriculture is being destroyed due to unsustainable practices, such as destruction of the vegetation, excessive use of pesticides and other chemicals and destruction of resistant varieties to pests and diseases among others. 
 
While speaking during an online presentation on the ‘Importance of Ecological Organic Agriculture Policies in the Transformation of West African Agriculture,’ organised by Journalists Go Organic Initiative, Aubee affirmed reduction in crop production and productivity in Africa, warning that climate change posed serious threat to food security in the Nigeria and other countries. He noted further that the use of harmful chemicals on food production signals serious danger.  
 
He said though there is a need to step up the drive for increasing global food production, consideration should be given to building solid ecosystem, saying “sustainable food production and food security can only be achieved through adequate ecosystem management.”
 
Aubee said Africans should be concerned about sustainable food production that will not only feed them but also take care of the health of the people and their environment.

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