Farmers and exporters who use Methyl bromide for the control of certain agricultural pests are advised to ignore the recent warning of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control on the use of the agro-chemical as reported in Punch Newspaper.
According to the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, the use of Methyl bromide for crop pest control is still permissible in Nigeria.
In a document made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday by the Head of Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Dr Chigozie Nwodo, the agency provided explanations on why the agro-chemical was still permissible.
NAQS is the statutory agricultural quarantine authority in Nigeria with the mandate to promote and regulate sanitary and phytosanitary measures in order to minimise the risk to the agricultural economy, food safety and the environment.
The agency argued that it was 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.
It said, “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.”
The NAQS added, “In the interest of clarity, we wish to state that 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.”
The agency stated that under the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures 15, the use of Methyl bromide for the treatment of wood packaging in international trade is allowed.
It noted that the use of Methyl bromide was sometimes set as a precondition for the treatment of agro-commodities intended for export.
The NAQS said some destination countries specifically requested for the use of the agro-chemical 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 $35m in foreign exchange in the seven months of 2017 alone.”
The agency, however, stated that for the avoidance of doubt, all agro-chemicals were potentially harmful if used contrary to their original purpose or if applied arbitrarily.
“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 agency stated.