Mr. Shitu Kabir, the National President, Cowpea and Beans Farmers, Processors and MarketersAssociation of Nigeria, says all hands must be on deck to get rid of sniper-infested beans in the market.
Kabir made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, the resurgence of killer beans in Nigerian markets is worrisome and must be treated as a matter of urgent national importance in view of the risks they pose to human life.
“It is time for us as a country to begin to look at what we eat.
“It is also time for us to pay a close look at the chemicals we use in our farms, at home and offices.
“The recent discovery of sniper beans in the market is very worrisome and all hands must be on deck to create adequate awareness on the killer beans and other harmful practices that many people are not aware of.
“The use of chemicals in Nigeria generally calls for concern as many Nigerians do not pay attention to the type of chemicals they use.
“Even when the chemicals used are not banned, many people do not stick to the required quantity.”
Kabiru said that the association deemed it necessary to organise a forum to bring major stakeholders together to chart the way forward.
He said that beyond the forum, there was the need for collaboration among the relevant agencies like Nigeria Customs Service, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
According to him, others are Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Association of Cowpea and Bean Farmers Processors and Marketers.
“The meeting we held had these organisations in attendance and the essence is to find lasting solution to the problem.
“We are expecting that the agencies that the association called will brace up in their activities.
“We expect NAFDAC to brace up in its activities, especially the type of chemicals they give licenses to and who the operators are.
“For the Customs, it should look at our borders to ensure that foods are tested before they are imported and to ensure that chemicals that are banned are not imported.
“We are also looking at quarantine to also provide good storage and other relevant things.
“For the Ministry of Agriculture is up and doing on this and last week we had a meeting with them on how to ensure that the food we eat is safe.
“We are also working with the media to create more awareness while chemical distributors and manufacturers are also being carried along.”
The president said that it was time experts began to discuss on going organic to avoid the dangers of using chemicals in farm produce.
He said that he was not unaware of the challenges of going organic, but added that it was achievable.
“Some people may say it is not achievable but with adequate research, we can achieve it because we must find solution to what is killing us.
“I want Nigerians to be conscious of the welfare of the people and ensure that they distribute and sell products that are safe for consumption.
“We should not leave everything to government because the buck stops our table.”
Mr Jethro Nancy, an infection and disease control expert, decried that records indicated that more Nigerians had died from poisonous products than from insurgency.
He said that the report of sniper beans in the market was a wake-up call for the government and other stakeholders to put measures in place to tackle the worrisome development.
“We need to put more efforts in the agric value chain to know the commodities that are safe for Nigerians to consume.
“The recent information on the sniper beans in circulation is an opportunity for us to go to the drawing board and check other commodities in the market that might not be safe for consumption.
“If you reflect on what is happening in terms of Boko Haram, it is a child’s play to the number of lives that have been lost to consumption of poisonous food.
“The way out of this is to do more in terms of awareness creation.
“Are farmers aware of the quantity of chemicals they ought to use? Besides farmers, a lot of people use chemicals without reading the manual to know the specifications.”
He noted that besides the loss of lives, the use of chemicals had driven bees far into the forest.
Nancy said that bees were very important to man in terms of pollination and the production of honey, “which is safe for consumption, but has become scarce because of the use of chemicals on plants.’’
He called for pesticide registration and control act to guide the use of pesticides to complement the role been played by NAFDAC.