By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The National Assembly has assured the Coalition AgainstParaquat (CAP) that Federal lawmakers will collaborate with them in ensuring legislations that will ban the use of the harmful chemical paraquat from the Nigerian market.
Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture, Distinguished Senator Abdullahi Adamu gave the assurance at a dinner organised by the Coalition Against Paraquat (CAP) with the theme: “Let’s Unite to Save the Nigerion Farmer and Environment from Paraquat toxicity” held in Abuja.
“As members of the legislature, we are committed to supporting members of the Coalition by working together to ensure that appropriate legislations are put in place to ensure that paraquat and other herbicides that hurt both the
health of our farmers and the environment are removed from our markets,” he assured.
Senator Adamu described the theme: Let’s Unite to Save the Nigerion Farmer and Environment from Paraquat toxicity, as not only sigificant, but also timely.
“I am convinced that the team of experts gathered here will join forces with the Coulition Against Paraguat to tackle the problem of paraquat use in Nigeria,” he stressed.
The lawmaker said that humanity and Nigeria in particular is at a crossroad.
“On one hand, the challenge is to grow food to halt imports, save foreign exchange andbe food secure. The flip side is for us to grow the food we eat in line with President Muhammad Buhari’s vision for total dependence on home grown solutions in a sustainable manner so that we do not compromise the health andfuture of our food systems.
“If we desire to grow enough food and be self-reliant, we must use herbicides,” he advised.
Speaking further, he said that however, herbicides to be used by farmers in Nigeria must be safe and environment friendly.
“We must not for any reason allow herbicides that are unsafe to occupy our market space and be sold to our farmers.
“Paraguat as we all know has been banned in more than 32 countries due to its negative impact on the health of farmers.
“The question is why is this product still in use in Nigeria? Even our neighbors: countries such as the Republic of Benin and Cameroon have banned paraquat.
“The most shocking story aboutparaquat is that countries where paraquat is manufactured such as China and Switzerland just to mention but a few have banned the use of paraguat in their own countries but are exporting to Nigeria. Why the double standards, if I may ask?” He queried.
He wondered why there is silence from organizations such as CropLife, pointing out that In other countries that successfully banned the use of paraquat, organizations such as CropLife were at the forefront of advocating for its ban.
“I therefore commend the effort of members of the Coalition Against Paraquat for rising to this occasion to ensure that paraquat is not just deregistered in Nigeria but anoutright ban is implemented,” he reiterated.
The Senator appreciated the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and its ally, the CropLife Nigeria for the efforts so far but stressed that more needs to be done.
“Finally, I wish to give my special appreciation to the Cassava WeedManagement project, and the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (11TA) for developing safe andenvironment-friendly alternatives to Paraquat for farmers in Nigeria.
“In conclusion, it is heartwarming that with these alternatives already in the Nigerian market, NAFDAC has no reason to allow paraquat in Nigeria and my colleagues at the National Assembly will lend our voices to this clarion call and we consider it indeed as a national duty.
“Please join us and “Let’s Unite to Save the Nigerian Farmer and Emvironment from Paraquat Toxicity.”
In an interview with newsmen on the sidelines of the dinner, Chairman/African Patron of International Institute of Certified Frencis Investigation Professional (IICFIP), USA Inc, Dr. Malami Shehu Ma’aji praised CAP for the awareness being created on the dangers of paraquat. Earlier in his welcome address, Prof Yahaya M. Kuta described paraquat as a necessary evil.
He said that though the chemical is important, its downside and negative effects impact on the environment and humans negatively.
For Simon lrtwange from the Coalition Against Paraquat, he said they could not overlook the nagative impact of the chemical.
He assured that they will keep doing advocacy until it is outlawed in the country.