An alliance of experts and researchers, Coalition Against Paraquat (CAP), have called for a ban on the importation and usage of paraquat in Nigeria.
Paraquat, a chemical herbicide or weed killer also called Gramoxone, is believed to be highly toxic.
CAP comprises nine scientists and media practitioners who specialise in advocacy and deep understanding of paraquat.
A member of the group, Prof. Johnson Ekpere, in a chat with the journalist noted that there has been an increasing concern on the safety of the toxic herbicide in the country.
Ekpere pointed out that the group’s main role is to act as a watchdog to sustain advocacy efforts to see to the ban of the herbicide.
He, however, vowed that the group would continue awareness creation and advocacy, and also contribute to the development of target information kits.
The group would also engage public and private sector influencers and opinion leaders to ensure that paraquat is completely out of the sale in the country, he added.
The professor, however, pledged the group’s commitment to supporting the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in coming through on its deregistration plans for paraquat.
Meanwhile, NAFDAC has explained that it has been executing its gradual phase-out plan for paraquat.
Director of Veterinary Medicine and Allied Products, Dr Bukar Usman, said that the agency has stopped registration for newly-produced paraquats.
Usman pointed out that those already in the process can only get two years instead of the usual five years.
“By the end of December, NAFDAC will no longer process the renewal of registration of the product, while total ban will be concluded by 2024,” the director said.
Members of the advocacy group include Prof. Mohammed Kuta Yahaya, a professor of Agricultural Extension & Development Communication at the University of Ibadan and the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Nigeria Yam Export Programme, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Prof. Simon Irtwange.
Also, President of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC), Prof. Lateef Sanni, is a member.