NIGERIA – Worried that Nigerians are indirectly eating poison because of the way food production is handled, the federal government has commenced nationwide advocacy on agricultural quality control and standards.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh during the flag off of the advocacy in Abuja lamented that despite the adherence of the country to global standard for exported agricultural product, Nigeria does not have its own standard in food production.

Ogbeh said that they are not only focusing on exportation but also on what Nigerians consume and the nutrition security of the country, adding that the standard for food production in Nigeria must be the same with the global standard.

He said “we are moving away from just eating much into eating well. There is a big difference between both, unfortunately, we are actually eating poison because of the way we handled our food production, right from the seeds we cultivate to the fertilizer we use to chemicals we spray, right to the way we process, preserve, and package the food”.

“All these determine whether we are eating well or eating badly. So it is not about what we export, but about the health of the larger society.

We need to educate the farmers very intensively, because it begins right from the type of seed, water used for irrigation.

Meanwhile the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has expressed worry over the increasing contamination of mycotoxin in the Nigeria agricultural food commodities.

They submitted that exposure to mycotoxin could lead to cancers, liver cirrhosis, intestinal dysfunction, immune suppression and increased susceptibility to some infectious diseases, marasmus, kwashiorkor, stunting and underweight in children.

The exposure could also cause bleeding from the lungs, pulmonary cedema, in-coordination, changing reproductive cycles and infertility and the World Development Report had noted that diseases caused by mycotoxin exposure lead to the reduction in average life span of humans.

The Coordinating Director NAQS, Dr Vincent Isiegbe who disclosed this during an awareness creation workshop organized by NAQS in collaboration with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for market men and women on mycotoxin contamination in agriculture and food value chains.

He disclosed that human beings get exposed to the food contaminant through the consumption of mycotoxic-contaminated foods, inhalation of fungal spores and mycelia fragments carrying the toxins, as well as through skin contact.

The Director Laboratory Service, Meimunah Habib however stressed that to prevent and control exposure to the contaminant there was need for proper drying of grains before storage, maintenance of good hygiene in the environment, proper storage of food and feed stuffs, examine stored crops every two weeks for signs of heating or infestation.

July 18, 2017: The Guardian