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The Challenge Of Sustainable Management Of Water Resources

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As part of efforts to brace to the emerging challenges in managing water resources, National Council on Water Resources recently held a meeting in Jos to proffer solutions to the myriad challenges facing the sector.

The meeting was aimed at generating policies and strategies that would aid the provision of potable water for Nigerians in a pragmatic way.

The meeting also held to examine ways of coping with the challenges of climate change, flooding, irrigation, dams, sanitation, hydrological services, integrated water management and hydropower.

Dr Godknows Agali, the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Water Resources, disclosed the focus of the meeting at the opening of the National Technical Committee’s meeting.

He said that the meeting, which brought together experts and stakeholders in the sector, would address flood and allied issues, while discussing ways of making the country’s river basins more functional.

“The aim of the meeting is to seek ideas and strategies to tackle hydrological and flood related issues.

“We shall examine the programmes in place to sensitise people on water usage and drilling to combat ground water reduction.

“We shall also discuss the effective management of floods, in view of climate change,’’ Agali said.

To that end, five sub-technical committees were set up to deliberate on issues such as Dams, Reservoir and Hydropower; Irrigation and Drainage, as well as Water Supply and Quality Control.

The other themes of the sub-committees are Manpower; Funds and Research, as well as Nigeria’s Hydrological Service and Integrated Water Resources Management.

After two days’ deliberations, the sub-committees submitted their reports to the National Technical Committee for consideration, reactions and amendments.

Dr Emmanuel Adanu, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Dams, Reservoir and Hydropower, who presented the group’s report, called on the National Council on Water Resources to set up a committee of experts to investigate dam-induced floods across in the country.

He noted the spate of floods that recently ravaged many parts of the country and stressed need to control natural and man-made floods.

Adanu urged dams’ owners and operators to acquire a comprehensive hydro-meteorological database to enable them to predict flood patterns and prepare early for emergency situations.

“A proper legislation should be put in place by the Ministry of Water Resources to prevent people from developing and residing in the high-risk flood areas.

“There should also be a proper watershed management to minimise siltation and control flooding in dams and reservoirs,’’ he added.

Adanu canvassed the need to carry out a comprehensive national inventory of dam instrumentation on dams, explaining that dam instrumentation would enable the generation of structural behaviour data on dams and reservoir to provide early-warning signals on instability and alerts on potential hazards.

Adanu, who also is the Director of Dams and Reservoirs in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said that proper dam monitoring and instrumentation was important to avert potential dam hazards.

Saying that many dams in the country were not properly instrumented, Adanu urged the Council to approve public awareness campaigns to sensitize stakeholders to the importance of dam instrumentation.

Mr James Bassey, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Irrigation, Drainage and Agriculture, who presented the group’s report, urged the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to initiate short-term remedial measures to alleviate the adverse effects of flooding.

He also called on the ministry to approve the adoption of efficient and more effective pressurized method of water application in the development and management of irrigation infrastructure.

“Developing 100 hectares of irrigated farmlands annually would bring two million hectares under irrigation by the year 2030 and this will be more cost-effective in the long run.

“This will also prevent or minimise future water scarcity, stress and conflict, while easily undertaking the conversion of surface water transmission and distribution canals to the pressurized system,’’ Bassey said.

Prof. Goldface Irokalibe, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Integrated Water Resources Management, noted that there were few Nigerians working in the secretariats of the regional agencies overseeing the resources of River Niger and Lake Chad — the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).

Advising qualified Nigerians to seek employment into regional water agencies, Irokalibe said that an increase in the number of Nigerians working in the two organizations will heighten Nigeria’s participation and influence in transnational water management in Africa.

He noted that Nigeria had been making the highest financial contributions to the agencies’ projects, citing the country’s contribution of five million U.S dollars, out of the six million dollars required for the feasibility studies on inter-basin water transfer from Oubangui River in Central Africa Republic to Lake Chad project as an illustration.

Besides, Irokalibe urged the ministry to work toward the prompt passage of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC) Bill by the National Assembly.

“We urge the ministry to persuade the National Assembly to fast-track the ongoing process of enacting the NIWRMC Bill into law,” he said.

He also urged the ministry to conduct a review of the existing draft water resources policy document to take due cognizance of the principle of integrated water resources management.

Irokalibe also called on the ministry to support the recommended 40 per-cent women representation in water-related committees and other policy organs in the three tiers of government, in line with the resolutions of the 1992 Dublin Conference.

.To achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the water sector, Mr Adedayo Mark-Adeyemi, a water expert, called on water agencies to fully implement the projects assigned them.

Mark-Adeyemi, ho is the Special Assistant to the General Manager of Ogun State Water Board, said that any agency found wanting should be replaced.

“Let us go back to the basis and solve the problem of water supply at once. Let water agencies stop returning monies to the treasury when they have not fully implemented their projects.

“Let the agencies carry out their responsibilities very well and let government provide the enabling environment for them to perform.

“That is the only way we can meet the MDGs on water supply and provide potable for our people,’’ he said.

Mark-Adeyemi made the call, while reacting to the presentation of the Sub-Committee on Water Supply and Quality Control, chaired by Mr Usang Bassey, a water consultant.

In the presentation, Bassey said six states had been selected for the pilot stage of the community-based Water Quality Surveillance, House Water Treatment and Safe Storage Programme.

He said that Zamfara, Niger, Taraba, Ebonyi, Oyo and Cross River states were selected, using factors which included rural settlement, low water and sanitation coverage, high diarrhea and cholera incidence and high population.

He said that two local government areas and five communities per local government area were chosen for the pilot programme in each of the six states.

Bassey stressed the problems relating to the quality of drinking water and the recent cholera outbreak in some parts of the country necessitated some urgent measures.

“Water-borne diseases can be reduced significantly through the strategies of the programmes, as well as good and hygiene practices.

“Effective surveillance of drinking water requires collaboration and cooperation of all the levels of government, relevant ministries and agencies, communities and households,’’ he said.

Bassey also presented a memo on the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme, saying that 425 communities had been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in Nigeria as a result of the CLTS programme.

He said that the CLTS programme had gained appreciable acceptability in the country, adding that 30 states were currently implementing the programme.

Bassey said that more than 2,654 communities were currently implementing the CLTS scheme, while 425 communities had been declared ODF.

“There is an increase in CLTS coverage from 1,887 communities and 299 ODF communities in December 2009 to 2,654 communities and 425 ODF communities in June 2010.

“The National Task Group on Sanitation has also carried out monitoring and verification visits to 84 communities in 28 states that have attained the status,’’ he said.

Bassey said that the exercise revealed that CLTS scheme had gained ground in 25 out of the 28 toured states and was contributing greatly to increased construction of latrines in the rural areas.

A total of 19 memoranda, considered by the National Technical Committee, were later presented to the National Council for consideration and approval.

At the opening of the National Council meeting, Minister of Water Resources Obadiah Ando assured stakeholders that the Federal Government was committed to the completion of hitherto abandoned water projects.

He said that the government took the decision at the last emergency meeting on the sustainable management of the country’s water resources.

Ando conceded that a lot still needed to be done to actualise plans to provide safe water to Nigerians, adding, however, that a remarkable progress had been made in that regard since the last Council’s meeting.

The minister said that the Federal Executive Council had awarded contracts for some dam and water supply projects that would increase water supply; boost irrigation activities and hydropower in the country.

He said that the ministry had put in place a machinery to develop inundation maps to combat climate change effects.

“The ministry is putting a motion to develop inundation maps along major rivers to control the people’s use of flood plains with high-risk flood potential.

Ologunagba writes for NAN

“Areas that likely to be flooded once every 100 years will be defined. These inundation maps are to provide guidance in urban development and protect farmlands for rural dwellers,’’ Ando said.

However, Malam Idi Waziri, Plateau State Commissioner for Water Resources, said that the state government was working in partnership with local governments and development partners to implement the water supply, sanitation and hygiene policy in the state.

Saying that the state government was striving to provide potable water to the people, Waziri commended Ando for his efforts to reposition his ministry for excellent service delivery.

Also speaking, Ms Ebele Okeke, a former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, urged the stakeholders to promote good sanitation, saying that water supply without proper sanitation would be counterproductive.

Okeke, who is the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Ambassador in Nigeria, however, noted that sanitation was the most neglected aspect of the MDGs.

She called for the collaboration of the stakeholders to improve the sanitation coverage of the country in Nigeria, urging them to give sanitation a priority attention.

Also speaking, Sen. Ewa Heinshaw, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Water Resources, pledged the National Assembly’s commitment toward sustainable management of the country’s water resources.

Heinshaw gave the assurance that the legislative work on the NIWRMC Bill was 98 per-cent completed and would soon get to a third reading.

“The NIWRMC Bill is scheduled to pass though the third reading very soon, the bill is between 95 and 98 per-cent completion, we will only review our committee’s recommendations.

“We are also working on the amendment of the bill establishing the River Basin Development Authority (RBDAs) and the bill establishing Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency,’’ he said.

Heinshaw, nonetheless, urged the RBDAs to collaborate with state governors to sensitise the people to the dangers of living in flood-prone plains.

“Work with your governors to address the challenge posed by climate change, you need to partner with them to look at comprehensive strategies to combat the scourge,’’ Heinshaw said.

In its communiqué tagged “Jos Declaration’’, the Council said that the national water supply level was 54 per cent, while the national sanitation level was 32 per cent.

Describing the performance of Nigeria’s water sector as poor, the Council also expressed concern over the prevalence of water-borne diseases in the country.

It decried the high rate of infant mortality arising from water-borne diseases, adding that Nigeria might not be able to meet the targets of the MDGs unless the situation improved.

It called on the Federal Government increase its funding to water projects, particularly in view of the huge capital outlay needed for water treatment and reticulation plants.

The Council also said that Nigeria had the potential to develop 3.2 million hectares of irrigable farmlands to reposition the country to become one of the world’s net food producers.

It urged the three tiers of government to invest in earth dams’ construction and irrigation projects across the country to enhance food production and animal husbandry.

Observers stress the need for the implementation of the Council’s resolutions, saying that if they are faithfully implemented, the country’s water sector will experience a remarkable transformation, while its citizens will also have greater access to potable water.

By Cecilia Ologunagba

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Covid-19 Vaccination: Role Of Local Leaders

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It was a matter of time, but Covid-19 vaccination has already started to generate heated arguments following a hint that the Federal Government could start sanctioning anybody who refused to be vaccinated.
Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director,  National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, disclosed this at a recent press conference in Abuja. He, however, said that implementation was dependent on availability of the vaccines.
“The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health are exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians, including federal civil servants and corporate entities.
“Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, then we will need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy.
“So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others,” he said.
Already, attempts have been made by two states – Ondo and Edo – to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory, especially for public servants and members of the public who wish to gain access to certain places.
These places include religious worship centres, banks and public buildings.
However, those attempts and the suggestion that the Federal Government might sanction those who refuse vaccination have been criticised by some trade, professional and religious associations.
 The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) that kicked against the compulsory vaccination, said that government should rather embark on advocacy and persuasion, than coerce citizens into getting vaccinated.
The spokesman for JOHESU, Mr Olumide Akintayo, said the policy would only be sensible if there were enough vaccines to inoculate eligible citizens.
Akintayo stated: “If you are thinking of it in terms of responsibility, it makes sense; but practically, we all know it is an impossible task.
“ If all the doses that have been sent to Nigeria since this outbreak is less than 10 million, how do you enforce that kind of policy in a country of over 200 million people?
“You don’t just come up with policies that are not backed by common sense; you don’t just say things because you want to talk. It would have made some sense if the vaccines are available for everyone.”
The General Secretary of the NMA, Philips Ekpe, said citizens could not be forced to be vaccinated against Covid-19 the same way they had the right to reject medical treatment.
Rather than being forced, he said Nigerians should be made to understand the need to be vaccinated. 
According to him, although they cannot be forced, citizens who refuse vaccination should stay in their houses so that they don’t endanger others.
He said: “The Federal Government needs to make people understand the reason why they need to be vaccinated. They have the right to say no. You cannot force people. People have the right to say no to medical treatment.
“But you should let them understand the dangers of not getting vaccinated.
“For example, if you want to travel out of the country, if you are not vaccinated, you will not be let in. The reason is because the other country you are going to won’t want to endanger the lives of its citizens.
“Let them understand the importance, but then if they refuse, they should stay in their houses and not go out and endanger others.”
Experts believe that properly communicating the advantages of being vaccinated, through the use of existing structures, such as religious and cultural institutions, would yield better results than subtle threats.
Communication connotes persuasion, even on occasions when the purpose of a piece of communication is not to persuade, there is still the need to win over the audience to accept the message.
In this era of fake news, and when the social media is awash with conspiracy theories against vaccination, persuasion must first be deployed to get the attention of citizens.
The burden increases tremendously when there are cultural and religious stereotypes which could prevent many adherents from accepting that being vaccinated is safe.
This challenge is not peculiar to Nigeria. In the U.S. for instance, vaccine hesitancy is responsible for over 90 per cent of all Covid-19 related hospitalisation.
Getting some Americans vaccinated has been so challenging that many people have been offered monetary incentives to convince them to get vaccinated in an unusual case of persuasion.
In Nigeria, where religious and traditional leaders are custodians of faith and culture respectively, they wield great influence on devotees and those institutions can be deployed to boost vaccination drive.
Historically, religious and traditional rulers often employ the cognitive process of persuasive communication to change an entrenched social perception or public opinion hindering required public support for relevant people-oriented policies.
Leaders have the influence to subtly appeal to the target to listen, accept, comprehend and act.
Therefore, before considering the stick, government should first explore the use of carrot.
Religious and traditional leaders can help in giving correct messages on vaccination as well as being role models, making sure that they and their loved ones too are vaccinated.
Faith-based and culture-based organisations can also collaborate with other leaders to sensitise communities on the benefits of vaccination and to also dispel the many myths and disinformation about it.
King Bubaraye Dakolo of Epetiama Kingdom in Bayelsa has been putting this practice to use, since vaccination was first rolled out in Nigeria in March.
“The arrival of the vaccine brought a huge relief to our kingdom. I mobilised my people to carry out awareness campaigns in the various communities to guard against apathy.
“My council chiefs and I led by example in being vaccinated early. When the people saw that, they were fully convinced that the vaccine is not harmful.
“We made it clear to our people through town hall meetings that the vaccine is safe and is designed to save humanity.
“We equally reminded them how some persons who refused to be vaccinated for poliomyelitis in the past are suffering the consequences of their actions today,” the traditional ruler said. 
According to the WHO Covid-19 Dashboard, Nigeria had administered 4.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses as at Aug. 31, 2021. Out of that number, 2.9 million Nigerians have been fully vaccinated, according to the NPHCDA.
With a fairly efficient vaccination structure, owing to many years of immunisation against polio, the Nigerian government should activate collaboration with religious and traditional bodies in its vaccination drive.
Experts, including health professionals and public administrators, believe that involving these leaders in advocacy and public enlightenment will lead to more people accepting to voluntarily get Covid-19 vaccination.
Of course, with just a paltry 0.7 per cent of the population vaccinated, the key indicator for any punitive measure for avoiding vaccination will be subject to availability of the vaccines.
However, to achieve the goal of vaccinating 40 per cent of its 200 million population before the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by the end of 2022, Nigeria will need more than availability of vaccines.
There has to be the acceptance and willingness of the majority of its population to be vaccinated.
One of the crucial and effective way to achieve that is to work with religious and traditional leaders.

By: Kayode Adebiyi

Adebiyi writes for News Agency of Nigeria.

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COVID-19 Vaccination: Role Of Local Leaders

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It was a matter of time, but COVID-19 vaccination has already started to generate heated arguments following a hint that the Federal Government could start sanctioning anybody who refused to be vaccinated.
Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director,  National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), disclosed this at a recent press conference in Abuja. He, however, said that implementation was dependent on availability of the vaccines.
“The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health are exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians, including federal civil servants and corporate entities.
“Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, then we will need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy.
“So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others,” he said.
Already, attempts have been made by two states – Ondo and Edo – to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory, especially for public servants and members of the public who wish to gain access to certain places.
These places include religious worship centres, banks and public buildings.
However, those attempts and the suggestion that the Federal Government might sanction those who refuse vaccination have been criticised by some trade, professional and religious associations.
 The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) that kicked against the compulsory vaccination, said that government should rather embark on advocacy and persuasion, than coerce citizens into getting vaccinated.
The spokesman for JOHESU, Mr Olumide Akintayo, said the policy would only be sensible if there were enough vaccines to inoculate eligible citizens.
Akintayo stated: “If you are thinking of it in terms of responsibility, it makes sense; but practically, we all know it is an impossible task.
“ If all the doses that have been sent to Nigeria since this outbreak is less than 10 million, how do you enforce that kind of policy in a country of over 200 million people?
“You don’t just come up with policies that are not backed by common sense; you don’t just say things because you want to talk. It would have made some sense if the vaccines are available for everyone.”
The General Secretary of the NMA, Philips Ekpe, said citizens could not be forced to be vaccinated against COVID-19 the same way they had the right to reject medical treatment.
Rather than being forced, he said Nigerians should be made to understand the need to be vaccinated. 
According to him, although they cannot be forced, citizens who refuse vaccination should stay in their houses so that they don’t endanger others.
He said: “The Federal Government needs to make people understand the reason why they need to be vaccinated. They have the right to say no. You cannot force people. People have the right to say no to medical treatment.
“But you should let them understand the dangers of not getting vaccinated.
“For example, if you want to travel out of the country, if you are not vaccinated, you will not be let in. The reason is because the other country you are going to won’t want to endanger the lives of its citizens.
“Let them understand the importance, but then if they refuse, they should stay in their houses and not go out and endanger others.”
Experts believe that properly communicating the advantages of being vaccinated, through the use of existing structures, such as religious and cultural institutions, would yield better results than subtle threats.
Communication connotes persuasion, even on occasions when the purpose of a piece of communication is not to persuade, there is still the need to win over the audience to accept the message.
In this era of fake news, and when the social media is awash with conspiracy theories against vaccination, persuasion must first be deployed to get the attention of citizens.
The burden increases tremendously when there are cultural and religious stereotypes which could prevent many adherents from accepting that being vaccinated is safe.
This challenge is not peculiar to Nigeria. In the U.S. for instance, vaccine hesitancy is responsible for over 90 per cent of all COVID-19 related hospitalisation.
Getting some Americans vaccinated has been so challenging that many people have been offered monetary incentives to convince them to get vaccinated in an unusual case of persuasion.
In Nigeria, where religious and traditional leaders are custodians of faith and culture respectively, they wield great influence on devotees and those institutions can be deployed to boost vaccination drive.
Historically, religious and traditional rulers often employ the cognitive process of persuasive communication to change an entrenched social perception or public opinion hindering required public support for relevant people-oriented policies.
Leaders have the influence to subtly appeal to the target to listen, accept, comprehend and act.
Therefore, before considering the stick, government should first explore the use of carrot.
Religious and traditional leaders can help in giving correct messages on vaccination as well as being role models, making sure that they and their loved ones too are vaccinated.
Faith-based and culture-based organisations can also collaborate with other leaders to sensitise communities on the benefits of vaccination and to also dispel the many myths and disinformation about it.
King Bubaraye Dakolo of Epetiama Kingdom in Bayelsa has been putting this practice to use, since vaccination was first rolled out in Nigeria in March.
“The arrival of the vaccine brought a huge relief to our kingdom. I mobilised my people to carry out awareness campaigns in the various communities to guard against apathy.
“My council chiefs and I led by example in being vaccinated early. When the people saw that, they were fully convinced that the vaccine is not harmful.
“We made it clear to our people through town hall meetings that the vaccine is safe and is designed to save humanity.
“We equally reminded them how some persons who refused to be vaccinated for poliomyelitis in the past are suffering the consequences of their actions today,” the traditional ruler said. 
According to the WHO COVID-19 Dashboard, Nigeria had administered 4.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as at Aug. 31, 2021. Out of that number, 2.9 million Nigerians have been fully vaccinated, according to the NPHCDA.
With a fairly efficient vaccination structure, owing to many years of immunisation against polio, the Nigerian government should activate collaboration with religious and traditional bodies in its vaccination drive.
Experts, including health professionals and public administrators, believe that involving these leaders in advocacy and public enlightenment will lead to more people accepting to voluntarily get COVID-19 vaccination.
Of course, with just a paltry 0.7 per cent of the population vaccinated, the key indicator for any punitive measure for avoiding vaccination will be subject to availability of the vaccines.
However, to achieve the goal of vaccinating 40 per cent of its 200 million population before the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by the end of 2022, Nigeria will need more than availability of vaccines.
There has to be the acceptance and willingness of the majority of its population to be vaccinated.
One of the crucial and effective way to achieve that is to work with religious and traditional leaders.

By: Kayode Adebiyi
Adebiyi writes for News Agency of Nigeria.

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Food Preservation: Time To Check Traders’ Excesses

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Have you ever bought oranges, mangoes, bananas, plantain and some other agricultural produce and wondered about their taste? Were they plucked before maturity? Were they cooked or ripened with chemicals, especially calcium carbide among others? Were they washed with detergents?
Calcium carbide is a chemical compound that is industrially used in the production of calcium cyanamide for fertilizer and also in welding. When calcium carbide comes into contact with water it produces acetylene gas that hastens the ripening of several fruits such as mangoes, bananas and apples.
These are some unscrupulous practices by traders in the various major and minor markets around us that pose a big threat to human health.
Food is one of the necessities of life, besides shelter and clothing. Through food, the human body is nourished with various nutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals essential for making a person healthy.
In as much as human beings cannot survive without food, how the food is handled after harvest and during storage can be a big threat to a person’s health and general well-being.
Agriculture analysts believe that apart from the abuse of fertilizer application at various stages of planting, the use of chemicals for storage and ripening of fruits has become a huge cause for concern. So also is the washing of fruits, vegetables, nuts and root crops with detergents.
According to them, general abuse of agricultural produce, especially beans and other grains by traders in markets and vendors or retailers at different selling locations have reached an alarming stage.
It is common today to see fruits, vegetables, nuts and root crops retailers and vendors washing them with detergent. Equally disturbing is the traders’ use of carbides to ripen fruits and pesticides like Sniper on beans to prevent or remove weevils’ infestations.
Chief Akanbi Adeoye, the leader (Babaloja) of Ikosi Market, popularly known as Jakande Fruit Market, Ketu, Lagos State, blames fruits and vegetables vendors and retailers outside the major markets for such practices.
“Our information and security officers have not made complaints about such incidents in this market.
“Here, fruits and vegetables are sold on wholesale basis to traders from all parts of the state and they carry them in bulk to their various markets and selling locations,’’ he said.
Mr Adebayo Damola, a trader and wholesaler of plantain, pears, avocado, pineapples and bananas among others, says those who use carbide to ripen fruits and vegetables and wash them with detergents do it outside the major markets.
“Here, we are middlemen to farmers who entrust us with their produce which come straight from their farms.
“We sell in bulk to traders within and outside this market and they take them to places where they sell.
“However, l know that fruit and vegetable retailers and vendors use carbides to make them ripe fast.
“I know too that some wash them with detergents to remove the soil and make it clean enough for display to attract customers,’’ he said.
Damola says that in using carbide to ripen fruits, it is not sprinkled on the fruits or vegetables, but dropped at the centre after arranging the fruits in circular form and then cover with cloth.
He adds that it is the heat generated by covering it with cloth that causes the fruits and vegetables to ripen within 20 hours to 24 hours.
An agricultural engineer and retired staff of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Umudike, Umuahia in Abia State, Mr Mba Agu, says it is not the duty of traders to apply agro pesticides like Sniper on gains, especially beans.
“The application of pesticides on any agricultural produce, especially on beans and other grains, is for agriculture professionals and not traders.
“Agriculture professionals are trained to apply agro pesticides and insecticides on agricultural produces in a way that it will not be harmful when consumed.
“The problem is that people think that they can use Sniper and any other pesticides on agricultural produce without the input of those trained to do so.
“All pesticides and insecticides are bad and dangerous, at the same time still useful when used in correct proportions.
“If wrongly used, they become hazardous and dangerous for consumption and become cause for an array of health issues,’’ he said.
Sniper is one of the agricultural pesticides used to control insects and pests on grains and seeds and other wide range of produce.
Sniper contains Dichlorovinyl Dimethyphosphate (DDVP) 1000mg, Sodium Sulphate and Enzymes as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Agu says there are three methods through which pesticides can be applied on beans and other produces for storage.
According to him, the pesticides are mixed in the material at recommended doses, sprayed around the warehouse for bulk storage or surface of the material in a container.
Agu believes that it is time pest control officers leave their comfort zones and enter the markets to sanitise the abuse of pesticides application on grains, especially beans.
He says it is time too that the National Agriculture Council dispatch its seed law enforcement officers to the markets to regularly take samples of grains for laboratory test and analyses.
For Dr John Olaoye, an agriculture engineer and lecturer, Department of Agriculture, University of Ilorin, farmers are and should always be encouraged to minimise the application of pesticides on beans, grains and other produce during storage.
“This is because during the planting stage, a lot of pesticides are used at flowering stage to protect it from pests.
“At the storage stage, it is advisable to use natural materials like pepper or by exposing the produce to oxygen.
“If you must use pesticides and there are residual content on the produce still remaining, it is still harmful,’’ he said.
Olaoye notes that the properties in DDVP pesticides were such that can vaporise.
According to him, if professionally applied, by the time of cooking at a boiling point of between 75 degree centigrade and 100 degree centigrade, the material will vaporise and will not be part of what is consumed.
“However, there are herbal formulations which are natural that can be used to prevent grains and other agricultural produce from pests and insects attack that were not harmful,’’ he said.
Olaoye says that since the market is the prerogative of the local government councils, the councils should revive their community and public health officers as was the case in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and early part of 1980s.
He adds that it is not enough for the local government to collect levy and issue receipts without doing the work of sanitising what comes out from the markets and upgrading the market structures.
The Unilorin teacher says that the community and public health officials check traders, what they have in stock, how they are stored and displayed for sale to ensure they are good for consumption.
They also stamp animals before they are slaughtered for sell as meat in the markets, adding that they also visit houses and test water from public mains and boreholes from which the occupants are drinking.
According to him, it is a pity that community and public health officers are not part of our system any more. However, the sooner the community and public health workers are brought back, the better it will be for everybody. Therefore, it behoves the government, especially local government councils, to be up and doing to safeguard the health of the citizens.
Dr Ikechi Agbugba, a vegetable expert and lecturer, University of Port Harcourt, says the misuse of any chemical on agricultural produce is a killer.
“How on earth will anybody wash fruits and vegetables and any other produce with detergents? What happens to water and sponge?
“This happens because traders always prefer the easy way out.
“The government has to be proactive to be able to check the excesses of traders and food vendors by apprehending and prosecuting offenders,’’ he suggested.
According to him, it is better to wash fruits and vegetables with clean water and sponge.
Agbugba says research works have shown that traders and food vendors are ignorant of the implications of what they are doing. He notes that organising and encouraging traders to form associations and get those doing similar trading to register is the easy way to enlightening traders on this.
“The market crier is useful in reaching them and telling them how to improve on handling hygienically the wares they have for sale,’’ he said.
On the whole, the federal and state ministries of agriculture should deploy their seeds law enforcement officers and pest control officers to major markets and produce retail outlets to ensure that what they are selling is good for the body when consumed by unsuspecting consumers.

By: Chidinma Agu
Agu is of the News Agency of Nigeria.

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