The Executive Director, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, Prof. Olufemi Peters, has said Nigerian farmers and agro-based companies spend $400m annually on pesticides.
He also said that improper pesticide use had caused millions of people to frequently fall sick across the country.
He spoke during NSPRI training workshop on ‘the use of inert atmosphere silos for grains storage,’ in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Peters lamented that some grains that Nigerians consumed, which were thought to be safe, had become hazardous to the health of people due to pesticide misapplication.
He added that some Nigerian grains had suffered rejection at the international markets due to high pesticide residue in them.
According to him, this has subsequently affected the nation’s foreign exchange and integrity in food safety negatively.
He stated that NSPRI had innovated NSPRIdust, a storage facility/pesticide that could be used in Nigeria to store grains and save the nation’s $400m being spent on pesticides.
Peters said the workshop was aimed at introducing the inert atmosphere storage structure, which he stressed had been tested and proven over the years by NSPRI.
“This technology has been effectively used for the storage of maize, sorghum, paddy rice and wheat in nitrogen for a period ranging from 24 months to 48 months. The high point of this technology is its ability to store cowpea for 36 months, which cannot be stored in the conventional silos.
“This technology is gradually being adopted by Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State; Dawanau Grain International Market in Kano State, and some private individuals.
“Total cost from the analysis of the Central Bank of Nigeria of money we use in storing grains in a year is about $400m. These pesticides, we do not produce. This technology (NSPRIdust) will make us not to spend the $400m as we can still store the grains to meet the same requirement we are asking for.
“In order to reduce these losses, grain handlers have fallen into indiscriminate use of chemical to safeguard their investments without considering the hazards being posed to them and the consumers as well.
“Pesticides application has posed a great threat to grain safety in the region and the profit gained by using pesticides to protect the grains is negated when considering the associated health toll.”
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Bamidele Adegoke, represented by the Deputy Director, Produce, Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Garba Abdulkadir, said it was important to further strengthen the knowledge and culture of storage of agricultural produce through the use of appropriate technologies.