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NAQS, NAFDAC, differ on the use Methyl Bromide to control crop pest

THE Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has called on farmers and exporters of agro products to disregard the early warning of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on the use of Methyl Bromide to control pests.

NAQS, however, said the use of Methyl Bromide to control crop pest is still acceptable in importing countries.

According to a statement issued by the Head, Media, Communications and Strategies of NAQS, Dr Chigozie Nwodo, it said that Mexico still all the use of Methyl Bromide to control pest on Hibiscus before shipment.

The statement reads: “the attention of NAQS has been drawn to some warnings issued by NAFDAC to the effect that the agro-chemical, methyl bromide, has been phased out and its use in Nigeria is now prohibited because of the impact of the substance on climate change, particularly the depletion of the ozone layer.

“The said announcement has caused concern and panic among farmers and exporters who rely on Methyl bromide as a potent option for the control of certain agricultural pests”

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“Methyl bromide is a widely used gas fumigant for the control of insect pests, termites, rodents, weeds and some soil-borne diseases.

“Whereas the use of methyl bromide is known to have some deleterious effect on the environment, it is acceptable for controlled quarantine use because of the lack of comparably efficacious alternatives.

“For example, under the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 15, the use of Methyl bromide for the treatment of wood packaging in international trade is allowed.

“More so, the use of methyl bromide is sometimes set as a precondition for the treatment of agro-commodities intended for export.

“Some destination countries specifically request for its use in the fumigation of a number of agricultural produce meant for export to their market.

“A case in point: Mexico, as a nation, explicitly requested that all Hibiscus shipments from Nigeria to their country must be treated with Methyl bromide. This is a clear and categorical precondition for the export of Nigerian Hibiscus to Mexico.

“It is worthy to note that healthy compliance with that prerequisite enabled Nigeria to earn over $35 million in foreign exchange in the seven months of 2017 alone”.

NAQS, however, said that all agro-chemicals are potentially harmful if used contrary to their purpose or used arbitrarily.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all agro-chemicals are potentially harmful; if used contrary to their original purpose or if applied arbitrarily. This is the reason NAQS advocates the use of agro-chemicals according to the appropriate product specification”, the statement said.

“For the information of the general public, NAQS is the statutory agricultural quarantine authority in Nigeria. It is mandated to promote and regulate sanitary and phytosanitary measures in order to minimize the risk to the agricultural economy, food safety and the environment. It is within the sole purview of NAQS to make pronouncements on the permissibility or otherwise of the use of methyl bromide and other agro-chemicals for the phytosanitary treatment of agro-commodities.

“Furthermore, NAQS is the National Plant Protection Organization (NIPPO) for Nigeria under the International Plant Protection (IPPC) guidelines. The Agency is thus responsible for ensuring that Nigeria conforms to all relevant international protocols on agro-commodities that are consistent with the overall interest of the Nigerian agricultural economy.

“Consequently, farmers are advised that the healthy use of methyl bromide for control of agricultural pest remains permissible in Nigeria especially for export of Hibiscus to Mexico.

“Any possible announcement of a change in the regime of the use of methyl bromide for agricultural pest control in the future will emanate from NAQS”, the statement added.

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