Nigerian peasant farmers lose an estimated cost of S400 million every year on the purchase of pesticide to store their produce.
Speaking at a two-day training workshop on the use of inert atmosphere silos for grains storage among selected grains handlers at the NSPRI, Ilorin on Wednesday, the executive director of the institute, Professor Olufemi Peters, said that aside high cost of pesticide, improper use of pesticide had caused illness among millions of people in Nigeria.
“Grains that we consume to be safe have become hazardous to the health of the populace due to misapplications of pesticide. Furthermore, Nigerian grains have suffered a rejection at the international markets due to high pesticide residue in our grains and this has subsequently affected our foreign exchange and integrity in food safety negatively “, he said.
However, the NSPRI boss said that introduction of inert atmosphere storage structure was capable of solving the problems associated with farmers’ annual loss, adding that it had been tested and proven over the decades by the institute.
“This technology has been effectively used for storage of maize, sorghum, paddy rice and wheat in Nitrogen for a period ranging from 24-48 months. The high point of this technology is its ability to store cowpea for 36 months which cannot be stored the conventional silos. This technology is gradually being adopted by universities, international grain market and some private individuals “, he said.
Professor Peters, who hoped that adoption rate of the safe technology would be improved after the end of the workshop, said that grains are stapled food consumed by almost everyone in sub Saharan Africa on a daily basis.
“Stored grains in sub Saharan Africa often suffer from 40 percent to 100 percent losses due to insect damage if untreated with chemicals and pesticides. In order to reduce these losses, grain handlers have fallen into the indiscriminate use of chemical to safeguard their investment without considering the hazards being posed to them and the consumers as well. Pesticide application has posed a great threat to grain safety in the region and the profit gained by using pesticide to protect the grains is negated when considering the associated health toll”, he said.