NSPRI develops plant-based fumigants for crop storage
As Nigeria battles to get residue levels properly in grains and pulses to be fit for local consumption, especially export, the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) has developed organic based fumigants to store them safely.
In line with its mandate, NSPRI has perfected works on some consumable plant materials that could equally serve as fumigants.
Head of Cereals and Pulses Programme/Entomology at the Ilorin-based institute, Ego Okonkwo said the plants include: Pepperfruits (Dennettiatripetala) and African brown pepper (pipeerguineese) or Uziza in Igbo and Iyere in Yoruba.
In an increasingly food safety-conscious environment, ingestion of residues from stored food has raised concern. Only recently, the EU extended the restriction of export of beans from Nigeria till 2019 due to issues with chemical residue.
Responding to The Guardian enquiries, Okonkwo disclosed how species of dry grains with undue application of pesticides could be easily identified in the market. She said such grains are usually free of insects especially, when it is not the season of their harvest.
“You don’t usually see insects on them, when displayed for sale in the market unlike the ones without pesticides. They are usually very clean outside the harvest period. When they are presented like this you begin to suspect presence of pesticides,” she said.
Although, Okonkwo believes in the usage of pesticides for food preservation, she said Nigerian farmers should recognise the difference between the pesticides designed for the field and ones meant only for use in the store.
According to Okonkwo, “a poorly dried grain put in a dirty environment can be infested by insects because the insects compete with man. Therefore, sanitation is very important. Jute bags meant for preservation of grains must be thoroughly washed to avoid infection.”
For her, “the best available method to detect or determine the level of residue in the grains is to take samples to the laboratory. Besides, to know if some grains are no longer good for human consumption and animal feeds, they should also be taken to the laboratory.
“Some of such grains could be carcinogenic due to wrong application of pesticides. So, the advice is that don’t use pesticides meant for the field in the store. There are variables in the field that lessen the potency of the pesticides unlike store, which is a controlled environment. Many people, had through ignorance, consumed the variety preserved for planting. This is dangerous.”