The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), has revealed that the Service is on the verge of producing the draft of Nigeria’s first ever National Pesticide Policy. The National Pesticide Policy, according to the Director-General, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, would serve as the framework for regulating the use of pesticides for agricultural purposes.
“Through the implementation of that Pesticide Policy, the agency will be able to address the culture of the use of potentially toxic pesticides for the preservation of food items.
“We are collaborating with researchers in Nigerian tertiary institutions to tackle the root cause of indiscriminate use of pesticides. We are working with notable pathologists and entomologists to develop effective, organic-based bio-degradable alternatives to synthetic pesticides.
“One of the major hindrances to the export of Nigerian agricultural products is the high pesticide residues in some of the goods. We are striving to invent biopesticides that are comparable to the chemical pesticides in effect to remove this huge impediment. A couple of field trials are underway in many parts of the country to confirm the suitability of some potent candidates. The reports we have received so far indicate that we have come within the inch of the threshold of success in some of the experiments. This progress is cause for optimism.
“We have also conducted a wide range of Pest Surveys, covering over a dozen crops. Last year, our Pigeon Pea Pest Survey opened to Nigeria the gateway of the $10 billion Indian pigeon pea market. This year, we hope to undertake more Pest Surveys targeted at emerging commodities, from whose export Nigeria can earn big foreign exchange,” he stated recently at the formal launch of activities to herald the Year of Plant Health 2020 in Abuja.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) initiated the declaration of year 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) as part of efforts to increase global awareness on the importance of healthy plants to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This, the United Nations General Assembly, in November 2018, adopted the initiative to confirmed the centrality of plant health to the agricultural economy.
It is estimated that up to 40% of global food crops, worth $220 billion in trade of agricultural products are lost annually due to plant pests. Pests, according to reports leave millions without food to eat, with devastating impacts on food security and trade. From the other hand, Invasive alien species are responsible for the loss of biodiversity, and consequent negative effects on the environment.
Climate change is one of emerging challenges for plant health, as it influences the movement of plant pests, weakening host plants by extreme weather conditions. New pests can be introduced into new ecosystems, with potentially disruptive impacts on agricultural productivity.
The recent rapid movement of invasive plant pest species in different parts of the world that have had a significant impact on food security and livelihoods proves that the significant social, economic and environmental impact of pests necessitates global attention and responses.
Domesticating this in Nigeria
According to the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), about 50% of food crops are lost due to plant pests. Plant pests and diseases damage crops, reduce the availability of food and increase food prices.