Don’t consider FISS pesticide-related bill, ANNP tells NASS

Alliance for Actions on Pesticides in Nigeria (ANNP), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and other stakeholders has called on members of the 10th National Assembly not to consider any of the pesticide-related bills presented by the Farm Input Support Service (FISS) Department of FMARD, as they lack transparency, accountability, openness and provisions for public participation.

Stating this as part of recommendations on the report of the review of the Pesticide Registration Regulations, 2021 and proposed amendment of the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 which was carried out recently in Abuja, they said the proposed amendment has not been discussed with stakeholders or non-state actors.

It therefore called for the drafting of a new Pesticide Control Bill 2023 with the primary aim of protecting the health of Nigerians, protecting their biodiversity and preventing foreign influence in her food sector.

They insisted that the Bill should be drawn from international best practices, ensuring the safety of life, application of precaution, and openness in the pesticide approval process, ensuring informed consumer choices via full disclosure, and promoting integrated pest management (IPM) approach and safer farm practices, etc.

“A new Pesticide Control Bill 2023 should be put together by a wider group of state and non-state actors from the government, CSOs, farmers associations, other consumer rights groups, as well as experts on food safety issues in Africa, and presented to the new National Assembly and office of the Presidency.

“The new Pesticide Control Bill 2023 should recognise and make provisions to strengthen the existing regulatory agencies and institutions; allowing for several regulations along the entire pesticide value chain from registration to usage (in farms, warehouses, stores, schools, public gardens, etc) and environmental monitoring.

“The bill should also provide clarity as to the jurisdiction of the various agencies, offering clear process and synergy; all under the coordination of a central coordinating body, a Council on Pesticide and Other Agrochemicals in Nigeria. The Council should execute oversight and joint approval of pesticide and other chemical management in Nigeria,” the report suggested.

The review also presents the current institutional framework for pesticide

regulation in Nigeria and the existing gap in the pesticide value chain, the unmonitored usage on farms and other public spaces.

According to the review, there should be a more robust pesticide registration regulation, and a people-centred law that ensures the protection of Nigerian lives and the environment, as against having a law that is designed to make the country more dependent on highly toxic pesticides, easing the entry for agrochemical companies, and subjecting the country to external capture and control of our food system.

Top among the recommendations is the need for the relevant MDAs (NAFDAC, NESREA, FISS) to align or harmonize their related regulations in a manner that ensures synergy, clarity in the process and focus in their jurisdiction.  Time and effort should not be wasted in the tussle among MDAs as to who should oversee the entire pesticide life cycle.

“There is a need for a central pesticide law that harmonises and makes this coordination and process seamless. However, such a law must have the safety of the Nigerian people and our ecosystem as its priority, rather than increasing the dependence of the country’s food system on highly hazardous pesticides. The Bills before the National Assembly are not designed for this purpose and should not be considered for passage or signing into law.

“While commending NAFDAC for the Pesticide Registration Regulation 2021, there is a need to review the regulation to make it more comprehensive, less ambiguous, and clear i.e. ensure the classification of registered pesticides is following WHO and Rotterdam Convention, and forceful to command compliance.

The use of pesticides in agriculture has been a matter of concern worldwide, due to their negative impacts on both human health and the environment.

According to WHO, the number of people affected by pesticide poisoning globally has risen to 385 million annually.