EMERGING facts from an independent research indicate that the majority of common vegetables consumed in Lagos and its environs have more than the minimum level of pesticide residue, the chemical of which remains in food after being applied to food crops.
Consumers of efo riro, ewedu, ugu or tete-garnished meals — whether in eateries or at home — are more exposed to encountering these farm-fresh produce and face a one-to-three chance of taking a meal prepared from affected vegetable, especially in Lagos.
These revelations were the fallout of a project by Dr. (Mrs) Vide Adedayo, a University of Lagos egghead and executive director, Gender and Environmental Right Initiative (GERI) on pesticide management in urban and peri-urban agricultural communities in Lagos.
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.
Adedayo, who sampled common vegetables in Alapere and Ojo-Barracks, reports that 68 per cent had more than minimum permitted residue for human consumption. These areas are heavily patronised by market women and suppliers to institutional caterers, fast food outlets from where they find their way to the dining tables.
According to the GERI executive director, the project was set up to, ‘bring to the fore the situation analysis of the extent and magnitude farmers perceive and adapt to climate change scenes in order to build the capacity of farmers for a better use of pesticide.’
At higher levels than the minimum expected, the effect is that pesticide residue can cause variety health effects.
Professor Olu Odeyemi, microbiologist and environment expert at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), on the backdrop of the just-concluded World Cancer Day, said Nigeria has seen a steep increase in the cases of cancer, some of which are attributable to pesticide residues.
He said some of the effects include birth defects, kidney problems, low sperm count and male sterility, among others.
For the vegetables, Odeyemi said government should get to the affected areas to sample the produce and destroy them if they exceed the acceptable level of residue and protect consumers.
Odeyemi blamed the lack of control by government and its agencies for the influx of outdated, banned and substandard pesticides that find their way into the country.
Not only does the residue transfer to crops, it gets down to underground water as well.
He thinks the government should set up a unit to control pesticide and agrochemicals dealers that are fraudulent dealt with.
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