Article 7.5 of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management developed by WHO and FAO, advice countries that the – “Prohibition of the importation, distribution, sale and purchase of highly hazardous pesticides may be considered if, based on risk assessment, risk mitigation measures or good marketing practices are insufficient to ensure that the product can be handled without unacceptable risk to humans and the environment”. Already over 50% of registered pesticides in Nigeria are in the category of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs); 80% of the most common pesticide brands used by smallholder farmers are HHPS. Worst so, most of these pesticides’ active ingredients are banned or phased out in Europe and USA due to their adverse impacts on human health, the environment including high toxicity to aquatic life, bees, and insufficient data to uphold the principle of preventing harm. While the importance of pesticides in the agricultural sector is known globally, the reality remains that the safe use of HHPs in Nigeria today, and in the near future is unrealistic. The increasing number of pesticide hazards in the country and the continuous rejection of our food export evidence this. This is further collaborated by the absence of comprehensive pesticide regulations and dedicated people-centred pesticide legislation/law in Nigeria. 

For the governance of pesticides in Nigeria, there is the NAFDAC Pesticide Registration Regulation of 2021, the NESREA National Environmental (Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides) Regulations, S. I. No 65, 2014, and two (2) contentious pesticide bills thought to be in the National Assembly. This document reviews the NADFAC Pesticide Registration Regulation of 2021 and the latest proposed pesticide bill (in the form of an Amendment to the Fertiliser Control Act 2022 to include Agrochemicals and Pesticides Control). The review identifies gaps in the NAFDAC registration regulation of 2021 and the proposed Amendment Bill of the Fertilizer Act 2019, in the light of international best practices, and pesticide regulatory standards in other countries. 

The review also presents the current institutional framework for pesticide regulation in Nigeria and the existing gap in the pesticide value chain – the unmonitored usage on farms and other public spaces. This review ends with practical recommendations for a more robust pesticide registration regulation, and a people-centred law that ensures the protection of Nigerian lives and the environment, as against having a law that is designed to make the country more dependent on highly toxic pesticides, easing the entry for agrochemical companies, and subjecting the country to external capture and control of our food system. 

Top among the recommendations is the need for the relevant MDAs (NAFDAC, NESREA, FISS) to align or harmonize their related regulations in a manner that ensures synergy, clarity in the process and focus in their jurisdiction.  Time and effort should not be wasted in the tussle among MDAs as to who should oversee the entire pesticide life cycle. 

There is a need for a central pesticide law that harmonises and makes this coordination process seamless. However, such a law must have the safety of the Nigerian people and our ecosystem as its priority, rather than increasing the dependence of the country’s food system on highly hazardous pesticides. The Bills before the National Assembly are not designed for this purpose and should not be considered for passage or signing into law. 

While commending NAFDAC for the Pesticide Registration Regulation 2021, there is a need to review the regulation to make it more comprehensive, less ambiguous, and clear i.e. ensure the classification of registered pesticides is following WHO and Rotterdam Convention standards, and forceful to command compliance.

Read the full review here

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