Nigeria’s agricultural opportunities limited by pesticide residues

Nigeria’s agricultural opportunities limited by pesticide residues

Scientists from Wageningen UR have observed Nigeria’s increased interest in agriculture as a source of income and an investment opportunity against the background of oil revenues that have declined in Nigeria due to falling oil prices. The export of agricultural produce from Nigeria is gaining importance, and last year’s EU prohibition on the import of dry beans caught the attention of Nigerian media and politicians alike. The high pesticide residue levels reportedly present in dried bean consignments rejected at the EU border prior to the ban, also triggered awareness among stakeholders of the importance of the responsible use of pesticides.

Following the rejection at the EU border of several consignments of dried beans from Nigeria due to the detection of high residue levels of the unauthorised pesticide dichlorvos, in June 2015 the EU temporarily suspended the import of dried beans from Nigeria. Scientists from Wageningen UR participated in a joint EU expert/RVO fact-finding mission to help the relevant ministries and agencies in Nigeria to address this problem. A survey of crop production and storage practices was conducted, with a focus on pesticide use, residue control and the certification system. More information is available at TAIEX.

Beans with insect damage destined for the local market in Lagos.
Beans with insect damage destined for the local market in Lagos.

Elements that lead to the presence of high pesticide residue levels (exceeding the MRLs) are the inaccurate control of bean pests in field and storage, and a lack of the information needed to ascertain the effectiveness of pest control measures taken in the bean production and storage chain. The residue control and the export certification system also lack cohesion. Particularly cowpeas are known to be susceptible to a wide range of pests in field and storage. At the local market, bean commodities were observed with damage and insects, despite frequent pesticide use. During storage, the control of mycotoxins is also a major challenge.

One of the beetles observed at the market commodity.
One of the beetles observed at the market commodity.

In Nigeria, beans are an important crop: they provide both calories and protein and have the potential to be stored for long periods. Awareness of pest management and good storage techniques is urgently needed. There is a great demand for knowledge of integrated pest management to increase quality and market value. In the bean production chain, positive private sector initiatives were observed with backward integration, and more of these initiatives are recommended in order to satisfy quality demands.

Wageningen UR together with RVO, the EU, the mutual embassies and various Nigerian institutes are considering follow-up activities, based upon the recommendations made by the EU expert group. Private parties interested in Nigerian agricultural market participation particularly for insect pest control in the field and during the storage of beans, innovative storage techniques, analytical methods or any other related topic should come forward at this stage as solution providers. Combined forces and broad cooperation will benefit both EU and Nigerian markets.