James Emejo in Abuja
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) is currently in loggerheads with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) over the latter’s recent ban on the use of methyl bromide as a fumigant for pest control in crops.
The Director General of the quarantine agency, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, also maintained that only NAQS had the sole mandate to “make
a public pronouncement on the use of Methyl bromide for phytosanitary treatment
of agro-produce in Nigeria.”
In a statement, he said that the use of Methyl bromide was allowed for controlled quarantine use due to lack of suitable alternatives, especially where specific request for its use is made.
He said: “For example, Mexico as a nation specifically requests the use of Methyl bromide in the treatment of Hibiscus shipments to their country – a trade that yielded over $35 million for Nigeria within nine months in 2017 alone.”
He said: “Furthermore, under the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 15, the use of Methyl bromide for the treatment of solid wood packaging materials in international trade is allowed.
“All agro-chemicals are potentially harmful if not used safely. The major concern
regarding the use of Methyl bromide is its effect on climate change, specifically on
the depletion of Ozone layer. Nonetheless, the Montreal Protocol provides exemption for individual countries on its usage based on special quota system.”
Asegbe, however, assured farmers of agricultural commodities, exporters, designated warehouse managers, the EU and the public that NAQS will not permit the use of Methyl bromide indiscriminately.
He added: “The public may wish to note that NAFDAC regulates chemicals generally but their specific use in phytosanitary treatment is the statutory responsibility of NAQS as the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) for Nigeria under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) guidelines.”
Meanwhile, NAFDAC had made a public pronouncement phasing out agro-chemical Methly bromide.
Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, had in a statement warned the public, farmers, exporters of agricultural produce and agro-input dealers to desist from using methyl bromide as a pesticide.
According to her, the chemical is colourless, odourless, noncorrosive and non-flammable, highly toxic to a broad spectrum of insects from egg to the adult stage and that it was primarily used as a fumigant in stored product pest management.